The big chill: Cryo tanks freeze the pain away

Ice baths are so out.

Why would an athlete spend a half-hour or more in an ice-filled bathtub watching their extremities go purple when you can get the same effects in three minutes or less?

Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC) is a method of holistic cold therapy that involves stepping into a pod for up to three minutes of exposure to subzero temperatures ranging from -200 F to -250 F to relieve pain throughout the body.

I arrived at CRYO Philadelphia on a hot summer day at 6 p.m. I soon learned that a boxer, an athlete and a man with psoriasis were there to find relief. The boxer said it was better than an ice bath and more convenient. It was the athlete’s first time, and he seemed to enjoy it. The man with pain and psoriasis said it was his eighth time – he hasn’t noticed much difference, but he seemed determined to finish his 10 sessions.

I stepped into a white robe after disrobing down to my underwear and put on a pair of black Uggs and some black gloves to prevent frostbite as the extremities get extra cold. I opened the curved door and stepped into the circular pod which reminded me of something out of “Star Trek.” I immediately felt like a human popsicle.

Dayhna Carroll, the owner and a realtor, chatted with others and me while we were getting frozen, which may be a good distraction technique. And just when you feel like you can’t take it anymore, it’s done. Unless you can’t stand it, hang tight for those two minutes. It’s well worth it.

According to proponents of cryotherapy, the exposure to subzero temperatures causes the skin’s cold receptors to stimulate the nervous system. The body perceives this sudden and extreme cold to be a life-threatening situation and activates a chain of powerful survival mechanisms involving the body’s most crucial systems.

They claim this causes vasoconstriction to occur and redirects blood from the peripheral tissue to preserve the vital organs and maintain core temperature. When re-entering a room-temperature environment, the blood immediately rushes back to the skin, blood circulation is naturally stimulated, and oxygenated blood is delivered back to the damaged tissue. This is intented to cause any blood with inflammatory properties to get treated, relieving pain and discomfort.

The FDA has not cleared or approved cryotherapy for the medical treatment of any specific medical conditions. They say they do not have sufficient research to know what cryotherapy does to the human metabolism.

But I slept like a baby that night and was full of energy the next day. The boxer said he always feels fantastic the next day.

The idea is holistic, natural therapy, and for intro sessions at $25, what do you have to lose – besides pain?

Plus, now you can finally live out your White Walker fantasy.

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