COLD COM­FORT

IS FREEZ­ING YOUR­SELF FOR SHORT PE­RI­ODS THE UL­TI­MATE RE­COV­ERY TOOL?

Men's Health (Australia) - - Muscle + Fitness - – Daniel Wil­liams

IF YOU’RE NOT 21 ANY­MORE, you’d know how a ses­sion at the squat rack or even a game of touch footy can leave you feel­ing the next day. The older I get the more in­ter­ested I be­come in get­ting around and do­ing stuff in a pain-free state.

The Cryo clinic in Sydney’s East­ern Sub­urbs of­fers a ther­apy that may in­ter­est you if you tend to pull up shab­bily from vig­or­ous ex­er­cise. While it’s not nearly as nice as a mas­sage, it may be more ef­fec­tive at re­liev­ing sore­ness by re­duc­ing in­flam­ma­tion.

Op­er­a­tions man­ager Ange greets me warmly and directs me to a booth, where I strip down to undies and socks while watch­ing a video about cryother­apy. Mo­ments later, I step into a cham­ber about half the size of a phone booth. There’s no roof and I can see over the door to Ange’s re­as­sur­ing face.

With the push of a but­ton she re­leases a cooled ni­tro­gen mist that plunges the tem­per­a­ture to mi­nus 130°C. That’s colder than it’s ever got­ten in the Antarc­tic. But even stand­ing there in your jocks it’s not in­suf­fer­able, just bloody un­pleas­ant for the two min­utes you’re sup­posed to bear it. (Not ev­ery­body can, ap­par­ently: so-called “jumpers” push open the door and leap out ahead of time.)

The sci­ence be­hind cryother­apy is that by ex­pos­ing your body to ex­treme cold you ac­ti­vate a pow­er­ful sur­vival mech­a­nism that reroutes a lot of your blood to your ma­jor or­gans while fil­ter­ing and en­rich­ing it. On leav­ing the cham­ber this en­hanced blood goes to work heal­ing dam­aged mus­cles, joints, ten­dons and lig­a­ments.

Could you get the same ef­fect from an ice bath or cold shower? Yep, but those ex­pe­ri­ences – while cheaper than cryother­apy – are less tol­er­a­ble and would re­quire a longer ex­po­sure.

I felt ex­hil­a­ra­tion in the min­utes af­ter my treat­ment and, yes, less sore from the pre­vi­ous day’s ex­er­tions. Maybe it works. Or maybe you should see our story on the power of placebo on page 70 . . .

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