Cryotherapy: The Coldest Spot on the Island

Here I am in the cryosphere, where dry air getting as low as 225 degrees Fahrenheit engulfs my body and draws in new blood, allowing me to speed up my recovery time.

Here I am in the cryosphere, where dry air getting as low as 225 degrees Fahrenheit engulfs my body and draws in new blood, allowing me to speed up my recovery time.

By Kiran Shastri , Staff Writer

What is the latest and greatest way to speed up sports recovery time?

Athletes like Lebron James and Cristiano Ronaldo say it’s cryotherapy. Cryotherapy helps pain management, sports recovery and skin rejuvenation with a “cryosauna” that encompasses the body from the neck down with hyper-cooled air that can get as cold as minus 240 degrees Fahrenheit.

While standing in the cryosauna, the cooled air gently surrounds one’s entire body. Patients are in the cryosauna for approximately 3 minutes while receptors on the skin signal the brain, which results in immediate blood rush to the body’s core, enhancing the blood with oxygen, enzymes and nutrients. This form of therapy is said to reduce swelling and inflammation, as the procedure of cooling the body draws back blood into the body’s core and away from areas in pain. This rush of cold air also helps to enhance the cell regeneration process in your body, which is one of many reasons why many professional  athletes choose this method of recovery over things like ice baths.

I decided to head down to Hawaii’s first cryotherapy spa, Honolulu Cryotherapy (opened in October 2015), to see if cryotherapy is really what the testimonials are making it out to be. As an in-season athlete, the rigorous day to day workouts of weights, conditioning, and on-court practice take a huge toll on your body. I am constantly looking for new ways to help me recover so I can play at the highest level that I can.

Upon entering the spa I was greeted by two workers, who proceeded to explain to me in a little more detail of what is cryotherapy. Prior to entering the cryosauna I was given a robe, socks, gloves and fur booties. The workers showed me to a dressing room and was told to strip down to my underwear (although he said girls can choose to go naked if they please) and put on the gloves, socks, booties and the robe.

I stepped inside the machine as the worker closed the door. Once the machine was turned on my skin immediately turned to goosebumps, but I was very relaxed, not tense and in pain like I would be in an ice bath. The attendant suggested that I turn slowly in a circle to make sure all of my body was exposed to the cold air. I enjoyed this form of therapy much more than an ice bath because. While the temperature in the cryosauna was undoubtedly freezing (it got down to minus 223 Fahrenheit), it was more relaxing than 10-15 minutes of sitting in ice cold water. I only had to stand and periodically turn in a circle for 3 minutes.

Once the 3 minutes were over I felt much more energized and significantly more limber than before. While I felt immediate results, long-term results were not as obvious. My legs went back to being heavy, and I lost that energized feel that I felt immediately after the therapy. Maybe with consistent sessions, long-term results would be more evident.

Professional athletes like Lebron James and Cristiano Ronaldo use this form of recovery therapy, so long-term, consistent use of cryotherapy must be beneficial. These athletes are exposed to the highest level of training and recovery; there must be a reason why they’ve sworn by cryotherapy to be there go-to recovery method.

The only heavy downside to this experience for college students is the price. For one session of cryotherapy, it costs $45, but there are multiple different packages you can purchase to get the most out of your money.

Until I sign my first NBA contract, where money won’t be an issue, I’m going to stick with my foam roller and ice baths as my go-to recovery.