I’ve been struggling with some semi-severe pain in my hands from tendonitis and just general aches (and admittedly, a lack of regular exercise). Ice has been helping my hands, but it’s hard to tolerate cold on the affected areas for long enough. I stumbled upon a recommendation to try cryotherapy, discovered that there was a place right here in town at Capitol Cryo and thought – well, think I’ll give it a shot.
Cryotherapy is basically using extremely cold temperatures to trick your body into thinking you are going into hypothermia, which causes the blood to come into your core, get highly oxygenated, and then go back out through your body. This is done by the use of an awesomely sci-fi looking device called a cryo chamber that sprays liquid nitrogen into the air to rapidly cool the enclosure to over -200 for a maximum of 3 minutes.
The benefits touted include pain relief, boosted immune system, faster workout recovery, anti-aging and more.
If you’re going in a big ‘ol mind-bogglingly cold sci-fi tube, you need pics.
My 11-year-old daughter came with me to act as photographer (and for moral support, of course). This might not be a job for a kid no matter how many times you say, “Check that one! Did it come out ok? Should you take more? Are you sure my eyes were open and I wasn’t in the middle of talking?!”
I arrived, filled out paperwork, and then was asked to disrobe in a changing room. I put on a pair of socks and slippers, as well as the provided robe.
The chamber dominated the room, rising at least a foot above my head, while small swirls of mist gently swirled around the bottom. It had a door on one side and opened in half. The technician placed raised cushions inside so that I would be at the right height to keep my head out, and then set it to pre-cool. I had come totally prepared to make some Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets references, but was too nervous to remember them in time.
It reached around -100f, and I was instructed to step up into it, and hand my robe over the top. She then handed me my gloves. At first I held still but quickly realized that shifting a from foot to foot and swinging my arms lightly made it much more tolerable. The temperature quickly dropped to hover around -230.
When trying to think of the right words to describe the next three minutes, my brain felt like it was stuck in a loading loop attempting to grasp the right phrases.
A little bit like going to altitude – that sensation where you can breathe, but your lungs feel like they are grasping a bit for extra air.
A little bit like the crisp elation of a hike through a frozen, snowy trail.
A little bit like that moment you jump off a high diving board and wonder if this was a sane idea.
Mostly, it was really, really cold. Beyond numbing cold, it was prickly cold. The peak of when you can’t stand an ice pack any more, but all over your entire body at once.
At the same time, it was oddly exhilarating.
Shortly after stepping out of the chamber and getting dressed, I experienced the feeling (sort of) that my limbs were wet, but could touch them and feel that they were dry. This sensation spread from my biceps down my arms to my wrists, and from my thighs to my ankles. It was not unpleasant.
I immediately felt invigorated. My daughter commented that I looked energized. My shoulders and neck felt looser. Within a couple of hours, I could move my hands better – not a full healing by any means, but there was a clear reduction in pain. I felt about the same pain relief as after a massage, but in just 3 minutes.
I had had a frustrating day (oh, the joys of bureaucracy!) and my mood lifted considerably.
I am curious to see further results, but think it was worth the experiment and will likely continue with a few more sessions as I feel that I have seen benefits with just the first use. Joy and Lacey are both absolutely wonderful – go check out Capitol Cryo asap!