Crying over cryotherapy

This week I faced one of my biggest fears. I had cryotherapy. I hate the cold. Let’s get that out up front. Give me a beautiful sunny beach any day over a snowy ski field. But I’ve been watching male biohackers, Ben Greenfield and Wim Hof, sink themselves into icy waters advocating the biohacking benefits of cold showers or jumping into sub zero lakes without any teeth chattering in sight, and I figured if the boys can do it, so can I!

Self-reflection note – am I crazy!? Though, I did say when I turned 50 I would live my next 50 years as audaciously as possible, so I guess crazy fits with that. Right?

I figured I needed to psych myself up and prepare myself mentally. You know…dip the toe in first to test the waters. Two weeks out I began having hot/cold showers in the mornings and nights. 

Week 1.  Every time I flicked the tap to cold I gasped for air, my heart raced and I’d feel faint. I embraced Wim’s breathing technique to get me through. The sight of me standing in a cold shower, pumping my arms back and forth may have perplexed my husband somewhat but it wouldn’t be the first time.

Week 2. It was easier. Now, when I turned the cold water on I didn’t gasp anymore. My heart didn’t race as much. I even wished the water was colder! Embracing the alternate temperature shower helped me to see the benefits of cold therapy. The cold water definitely helped my back pain. When the cold water rushed over me I felt my body thanking me. It was a kind of release of tension. I was ready for the cryotherapy chamber.

Full body cryotherapy

I was shitting myself. I sat in my car and recorded the below vlog.

I went inside and was taken in to a room where the chamber awaited me in all its white dominance. I was handed some classy terry towelling shorts, tank top, a pair of socks, gloves, a head band, and asked to change.

Ready to enter the chamber

The therapist explained that the chamber temperature would drop down to – 130°C which would bring my body temperature down to around -30°C. I thought I was going to cry. Where I live in Queensland, Australia, the coldest I’ve ever experienced is 6°C. Right. I’ve got this, I said to myself, while envisaging fainting in the chamber after 30 seconds.

I came close. I entered the chamber surrounded by a white mist. My favourite classical number, Adagio for strings was playing in the background. As soon as the chamber door closed I felt as if I couldn’t breathe. I gasped for air, my throat was clamping shut. My heart boomed against my chest and into my ears. I thought I was going to have to bail. 

Inside the chamber

My survival mechanisms were kicking in. “30 seconds,” said the therapist. I peered up at the digital clock. Should I bang on the door? No, I thought. Go inwards. Focus. Breathe. 

By this stage endorphins were being released, my blood was starting to rapidly circulate throughout my body. My capilIaries were expanding up to four times their normal size, enabling my white blood cells to access and heal my injuries faster. I started to feel calmer. Air flowed into my lungs. My heart rate dropped. I didn’t even really feel cold.

“One minute.” I can do this. I turned around. Moved my arms. Breathed. “2 minutes.” 

At 2 minutes 30 seconds the cold started to bite. I could feel it in my joints. My bones started to ache. “3 minutes.” The door opened and I stepped out…relieved but euphoric. I’d done it! 

Here’s how I felt afterwards.

Other than euphoria, I didn’t really feel any immediate benefits. But I could feel my body reacting as I drove home. By the time I got home, 20 minutes later, I noticed I felt more energetic after feeling quite flat when I woke up that morning. My back pain was gone. Would I do it again? Yep. This was obviously just one treatment. I want to see what a long term treatment plan will do.

Mind over matter. That’s all it took for me to break one of my biggest fears. Cheers to that. Next up will be facial cryotherapy. Tune in next week!

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