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Does Science Support Celebrity Obsession With Cryotherapy?

Did you know countless professional athletes and celebrities LOVE whole-body cryotherapy? 

Professional athletes such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Floyd Mayweather, Steph Curry, Lebron James, the entire New York Nicks basketball team, and not to mention Usain Bolt — the fastest man alive— all routinely jump into whole-body cryotherapy chambers. These athletes have said cryo adds ‘an edge,’ to their training, speeding up their recovery time and boosting their overall athletic performance. 

Did you know? The former Olympic athlete & motivational speaker Tony Robbins is such a big fan of cryotherapy he bought his own chamber he uses at home. He has said that he does multiple sessions a day.

A massive number of Hollywood celebs also regularly chill out in cryo chambers for the anti-aging, elevated mood, and boosted metabolism. A-list fans include Demi Moore, Justin Beiber, Daniel Craig, Jessica Alba, Jennifer Aniston, Alicia Keys, and Mandy Moore….to name a few.

Celebs love regularly chilling out in cryo chambers, but what does the scientific community have to say about whole-body cryotherapy? Can you really burn 800 calories in one session?  Does whole-body cryotherapy honestly work? Keep reading below to find out the proven (& unproven) benefits of whole-body cryotherapy.

Celebs like Mandy Moore say they are “obsessed” with the cold cure beauty boost.

What does science say about whole-body cryotherapy benefits?

A recent review of evidence published in the National Institutes of Health (1) found that whole-body cryotherapy can:

  • Reduce inflammation, muscle pain, and cell damage in athletes. (2)
  • Decrease skin or muscle temperatures to a similar (or lesser) degree as other forms of cryotherapy (such as applying ice packs)
  • Accelerate the perception of recovery after specific activities and reduce soreness in the short term.
  • The 3-minute treatment can be especially helpful for “adhesive capsulitis” (frozen shoulder), a condition marked by severe loss of shoulder motion that may complicate certain injuries. Scientists would like to conduct more long-term studies of treating with WBC for this problem.
  • Better sprinting performance in athletes. (3)

Nowadays, whole-body cryotherapy is a medical physical treatment widely used in sports medicine. That is why so much of the research is around athletes.

Can I really burn 500-800 calories from one whole-body cryo session?

Yes! We’ve had clients use smartwatches to track it. 

But you must continue to consistently expose your body to cold to receive the metabolic benefits.

Though there isn’t a robust study on cryotherapy specifically, there is definitely sound research on chilling out being beneficial. 

Studies have shown being in the cold for an extended period can help you shed stubborn weight. Research suggests that being in the cold for an extended period regularly could help you shed pounds. (4)

This is because when it’s cold, your body works harder to increase your internal temperature. When we have clients who burn hundreds of calories from a single cryotherapy session, it actually occurs in the hours after their treatment, as their temperature heats back up. 

The research on cold exposure and metabolism also showed that participants have to get cold routinely. Metabolism rates returned back to normal after research participants stopped sleeping in the cold. (5)

Cryotherapy Benefits Reported by Clients

Though research into whole-body cryotherapy is still in the early stages, we receive a lot of feedback from our clients. Purported benefits include:

  • Muscle, joint, and chronic back pain relief
  • Weight loss & a boosted metabolism from regular maintenance sessions
  • Higher energy levels
  • Younger-looking skin and anti-aging effects from regular treatments
  • Better mood and energy
  • Immediate mood boost
  • Mental focus & clarity
  • Anxiety relief & decreased symptoms of depression
  • Higher daily calorie burn

How often do I need to do WBC treatments?

While a single session will instantly help, most clients come in 2-3 times per week. These guidelines will help you select the right cryotherapy schedule for your health and wellness goals.

Why is there a lack of evidence for whole-body cryotherapy?

Research into all kinds of cold therapy — ice packs, cryotherapy and more — is still in the early stages, even though nearly everyone has applied ice to a sprained ankle or sore knee at some point.

For example, did you know applying an ice pack to treat local injuries isn’t even close to being well supported by science?

The science of ice pack benefits and cryotherapy is slim- but we all know it works.

This big systematic review published in the Journal of Athletic Training found limited evidence to support the use of ice in the treatment of ankle sprains. (6)  Another report that looked at the use of ice for different soft-tissue injuries concluded more high-quality trials are needed to provide quality evidence-based guidelines on cryotherapy.

What can you expect from a whole-body cryotherapy session?

At our facilities, we provide clients with gloves, socks, slippers, Ugg boots, and earmuffs to protect sensitive skin before stepping into a cryotherapy chamber.

While it feels cold right away, the time passes quickly. (Especially when you have music or a staff member to distract you!) And the more times you go for maintenance sessions, the more your cold tolerance will increase.

We find clients don’t tend to get as cold after completing their first five sessions. Multiple maintenance visits make all the difference!

Not ready to step into a chill chamber? We also have targeted partial cryotherapy treatments, where we use a handheld wand to direct chilled nitrogen vapors to a specific part of the body, like the neck or thighs.

Chances are you’ll get the shivers! You’re not locked in the chamber, and it extends from the neck down. Your head is not enclosed. You can open the door at any moment and simply step out of the cryo chamber.

We have some clients with lower cold tolerances who will simply stay in for two and a half minutes and still get the full range of anti-inflammatory benefits.

Exercise due diligence when choosing a cryotherapy provider

When it comes to whole-body cryotherapy, you really have to do your own due diligence. Choose a facility like Cold Play that you can trust to help you reach your health goals, and talk to your doctor about whether cryotherapy is right for you.

Live in the southern Connecticut area? Cold Play Cryo is proud to be staffed with wellness professionals at both our Greenwich and Darien locations who can effectively guide you.