Should You Chill With Whole Body Cryotherapy?

By Jessica Hamlin

Sometimes an ice pack is just the thing you need for an injury or aching muscles. But what about immersing your whole body in sub-zero temperatures?

Let’s talk cryotherapy.

What is It?

Cryotherapy means “cold therapy,” and the term applies to everything from putting a cold pack on an sore muscle to whole body cryotherapy, Forbes reports. During whole body cryotherapy, you stand minimally clothed in a chamber for a few minutes while nitrogen vapors are released and the temperature drops to anywhere from -110 degrees to -200 degrees Fahrenheit. Brrr!

Why Are People Doing It?

Celebs like Jennifer Aniston, athletes, and wellness folks are fans of whole body cryotherapy. So, why are people paying to feel like a popsicle?

The reported benefits of whole body cryotherapy include:

  • More energy
  • Better blood circulation
  • Pain relief
  • Younger-looking skin
  • Strengthened immunity
  • Weight loss
  • Anxiety and depression relief

Should You Do It?

While some evidence shows that whole body cryotherapy can help with pain and inflammation from arthritis and fibromyalgia, there doesn't appear to be enough thorough scientific evidence yet to prove the other supposed benefits, Forbes found.

Whole body cryotherapy is also not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so even though spas and health centers may promote its benefits, they have to make the usual disclaimer that it’s “not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”

But some people, like a Marine veteran and former combat instructor in this U.S. News & World Report article, claim to have experienced the purported benefits.

What to Know Before You Try

With any health treatment, the effects and risks can vary by person.

It’s worth noting that a young woman died by asphyxiation (not enough oxygen) from cryotherapy. However, she was a spa worker who did it on herself while she was alone. It’s probably never a good idea to try something like this without supervision, even if you think you know what you’re doing.

Cryotherapy is not recommended for pregnant women or people with severe hypertension and other heart problems.

You may want to talk to a trusted health professional first who can advise on how cryotherapy may affect you based on your medical history and current health.  

Find a reputable place that does cryotherapy. Look at online reviews. Make sure the technicians are well-trained. Does the place know what to do if you have a bad reaction to cryotherapy, for example?

And as always, be safe and listen to your body.