I walk in the door, very friendly greeting, I sign my life away… strip down and put on socks, booties, and gloves… I feel awkward AF but continue very quickly. “I’m ready!” I shout and she walks in, locks the chamber and pushes the button. I get super excited and feel like I’m about to travel in time… the technician is talking to me… my excitement slowly fades and she asks me where I’m from to get my mind off of the fact that my body is becoming very numb. She tells me to twirl around just to get some blood flowing, so I do as I continue to talk. I feel like a crazy person at this point but keep twirling and blowing the nitrogen gas because it looks cool! “You’re halfway done,” she says and I’m like, “Oh thank god!” We continue to talk but I am almost at my limit. “Tell me I’m almost done,” I said, and she tells me I have 8 seconds left. Poof! I step out and immediately put everything back on. Finito!
Okay, so I have some friends who have done this before and swear by it and there seems to be a popular trend of this “Whole Body Cryotherapy” method to recover sore muscles. I had to try it myself to see what it was all about, in hopes that my body feels better!
I wonder if I set my expectations too high from reading reviews from other people who have done this and do it regularly. I was expecting to be more relaxed, a lot less sore, and for some of my pain to subside. The soreness is still there, even 4.5 hours later writing this. I think a little soreness in my upper back has subsided but then I begin to wonder if it’s more of a placebo effect because the expectation in our mind is that this is supposed to make your body feel pain free and gain more energy.
I did some brief digging to see if there has been research performed on the effects that WBC claims to support. Overall conclusion I found states that there is not enough research or evidence that WBC helps to reduce muscle pain, enhance recovery, or improve athletic performance. Research has shown that it does help to decrease DOMS post-exercise. A few exercise physiologist can’t quite make sense of it because the coldness could be counterintuitive to the healing and recovery process of sore muscles. Inflammation isn’t necessarily always a bad thing, it occurs because your body is trying to protect those certain areas that been “traumatized,” for example, breaking down your muscles from heavy lifting; however, without the wear and tear then there is no room for growth or adaptation. As the temperature in your tissues are lowered, pain is reduced because the veins/arteries become restricted and slows the inflammatory process. So perhaps that is the reason some people love it.
It seems that more research needs to be done to find improved valid and reliable evidence to this recovery method. I think the best way to figure it out is to try it at least once for yourself to see if you feel better or not afterwards. Everyone is different with how his/her body responds to certain stimulus. I say if you feel better then do it, if you don’t feel much improvement then it’s best to save your money and try to find something that does work for you! I personally like to use Tiger Balm on all my injuries, bruises, strains, and sprains… because it feels good and it works for me… and no, it’s not because I’m Asian.