Nowadays, there are several holistic and non-invasive approaches that you can use to aid in minimizing body inflammation, and to even expedite the recovery of certain injuries. One method that has been quite popular is cryotherapy.

Cryotherapy, or ice therapy, is the local or general use of low temperatures for medical purposes. Putting your body at extreme temperatures for short bursts of time causes a norepinephrine response which then triggers a fight or flight reaction. This response in turn causes the release of endorphins that have analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. It can be a very beneficial method of getting rid of pain, spasms, inflammation, and can even improve sleep habits and more.

Recently, I was given the opportunity to experience a cryosauna at Cloud Cryotherapy in the Strip District of Pittsburgh. The cryosauna machine envelops your body in extremely cold temperatures (typically around -200 degrees F according to Cloud Cryotherapy) for 2-3 minutes.

Cryotherapy Chamber for Pain Relief

Inside View of Crysauna before sub-zero temperatures

Here is what my visit was like:

I arrived at Cloud Cryotherapy feeling lethargic and tired from a rough work week. The owner, Tom Rodgers, gave me a tour of his trendy facility and guided me back to where my session would take place. The cryosauna was in a private room and I was given a detailed explanation of how everything would play out. I must admit, at this point, I was feeling a little uncomfortable thinking about the cold temperatures I was about to become immersed in, but I was pleasantly surprised when I realized it was a “different kind of cold.”

Spand-Ice tests Cryotherapy for Pain Relief

Cloud Cryotherapy Protective Gear for Cryo Chamber

The cryosauna felt more like I was being placed in a machine with dry ice. I started breathing through my anxiety and marched in place so I could concentrate on something else while the backs of my legs started feeling the coldest. I lasted about 2 minutes before I started to feel REALLY COLD, so that’s when we ended my session. After the submersion, I took inventory of how I felt. The experience paid off because I was feeling invigorated, physically energized and slept like a baby that night! In addition, my body, which is typically plagued by inflammation, felt really good!

Helen Behn tests Cryotherapy for Back Pain Relief

Helen Behn tests Cryotherapy for Back Pain Relief

So, what types of people are the best candidates for cryotherapy? Think, athletes, people with immune disorders, and those with extreme pain (In my case: chronic back pain). It is just one more method of ice/cold therapy that can be used to combat back pain. Perhaps a more radical technique than wearing one of our Recovery wraps, but still beneficial nonetheless. And, just one more alternative we can add to our self-care regimen to aid in the fight against body ailments.

In fact, while I was enduring my cryotherapy experience, Jordan Villella, a professional bike rider, was there as well. Jordan and I got to talking and he suffers from pain when endurance training and preparing for races. Such strenuous exercise causes him pain and inflammation. He uses cryotherapy to aid in his leg and lower back recovery so he can get back on his bike quicker and push the limits for his next ride.

Another athlete who is rather well-known in the NFL community, Cam Heyward, is not a stranger to cryotherapy as a means to relieving his aches and pains. According to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article that documented Heyward’s experiences with cryotherapy he stated that, “I do get cold, I admit that. I feel a little bit numb but not a bad numb. It’s a good feeling. It’s refreshing like an energy burst.” He isn’t the only Steeler to benefit from this type of therapy, in fact, the article mentions that, “many Steelers now use cryotherapy to tune up for games, reduce pain and promote healing afterward.”

It’s apparent that cryotherapy benefits a wide range of people, and is a great alternative to more-invasive or non-holistic methods that are typically used to treat inflammation and pain. I don’t know if you’re willing to risk the cold to try this cutting-edge technology, but I’m ready for another session.