Professional sportspeople are willing to try almost anything to gain an advantage – even if common sense, and on occasion the law, cautions against it. As a result, even extremely odd ideas, such as subjecting your body to temperatures below minus 100 degrees for three minutes at a time, can become very popular if they are linked with success.
Whole body cryotherapy certainly impresses on the last count. Double Olympic champion Mo Farah is an advocate, and Leicester City’s stunning Premier League triumph was apparently aided by sub-zero sessions. Gareth Bale also used cryotherapy to help him keep fresh during Wales’ impressive Euro 2016 campaign.To see if cryotherapy could also be of use for the common man, Coach tried it out at ICE Health in Kensington.
The sensation of stepping into a pod chilled to minus 120 degrees is like nothing else. Obviously it’s pretty cold, but far less so than you’d feel on a chilly day in the heart of winter, as the dryness of the cryotherapy stops you feeling the full minus 120. Which is good, or you’d probably collapse.
You quickly start to tingle all over, and even through gloves and socks your extremities do start to protest at the cold. Undoubtedly, the best feeling is the moment when you step out of the pod, and the blood rushes back to your outer parts and you feel incredibly invigorated and ready for anything, even smashing a 35-yard free-kick past Joe “Mr Butterfingers” Hart.
How Cryotherapy Works
The extremely low temperatures cause the brain to divert blood flow to your core to keep vitals like the heart, brain and lungs in working order. This triggers a release of hormones, including anti-inflammatories, into the blood. When you then leave the pod, the blood – enriched with oxygen and hormones – heads back to all parts of the body.
The purported benefits include being able to train longer, harder and more regularly as recovery is speeded up. Cryotherapy is also claimed to boost the immune system and help you sleep better – all on top of feeling rejuvenated.
Five sessions cost £475; £119 for a one-off. For more, visit icehealth.co.uk (opens in new tab)
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.
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