Should you get cryotherapy? What to know before you go.

Cryotherapy is a relatively new, albeit rapidly growing in popularity, recovery technique for endurance athletes. This week, I visited a local cryotherapy facility in Memphis, Peak Cryotherapy Spa, and I can’t wait to share with you guys my thoughts on the experience. While Peak did give me a complimentary visit, all opinions are of course my own.

cryotherapy | running | marathon training | running plan | recover from running
cryotherapy | running | marathon training | running plan | recover from running

I’m going to walk you through the different components I experienced while at Peak, and will share the ins and outs of cryotherapy!

I walked into Peak, and was immediately greeted by the smell of peppermint.

Peppermint essential oil is commonly diffused at my house, so I felt right at home :) The ambiance was clean, modern and calming. Just what I want before I get into an ice chamber ha! First, they had me fill out a brief waiver to make sure I was medically able to use cryotherapy. Some of the contraindications for cryotherapy include pregnancy, hypertension, heart complications, recent stroke, fever, lung disorders, bleeding, and Raynaud's disease.

Some things to note about cryotherapy:

  • Your body burns 800 calories in just 3 minutes (insane!)
  • Some experience restlessness after the therapy because of increased energy levels (I actually felt super energized for a few hours after!)
  • Many cryotherapy chambers have multiple ‘cold’ levels, ranging from -230 F to -300 F (I opted for level I, the least cold.)
  • The therapy is great for collagen production and regaining elasticity, too. Win!
cryotherapy | running | marathon training | running plan | recover from running
cryotherapy | running | marathon training | running plan | recover from running

Susan at Peak Cryotherapy was really great with answering any questions I had about the therapy, and explained everything to me beforehand. We decided since it was my first time using it, and I wasn’t a huge fan of ice baths, that I would opt for level I (just a meager -230 degrees F). I went into the changing room, stripped down, put on the soft robe they provided, slipped on a pair of wool socks and slippers, put on gloves and was all set to go.

cryotherapy | running | marathon training | running plan | recover from running
cryotherapy | running | marathon training | running plan | recover from running

I was trying to talk, and literally the cold took my breath away.

Susan had me step into the chamber, and told me when she was starting the nitrogen. She set the timer for 3 minutes, and I immediately felt this huge rush of cold air! Yikes! I was trying to talk, and literally the cold took my breath away. I was standing in this chamber, naked, at -230 degrees. Holy moly! “Okay how long has it been?” Susan laughed: “ You’ve been in there for 45 seconds.” I took a deep breath. I would say it’s similar to the pain you feel during an 800 meter repeat. You know it’s going to end soon, but man it hurts! My friend, Erica, helpeddistract me by asking how my workout had gone earlier in the day. Lol! With my teeth chattering, I spouted off, “3 mile warm up, uhh uhh 3x1 mile at 6 minute pace, 3x30 second at 90%, uhhh hold on GOSH THIS IS COLD! HOW MUCH LONGER, SUSAN?” “30 seconds.” “Ahh, then I did a 3 mile cool down,” I said. “Okay you’re done!” “That was a long 3 minutes!” I said. But wow, I totally felt like a ice princess badass when I was done ;)

cryotherapy | running | marathon training | running plan | recover from running
cryotherapy | running | marathon training | running plan | recover from running

I wrapped the robe on as soon as Susan said “You’re done!” and stepped out of the chamber. Whew!

After the cryotherapy session, we went into another room, for my favorite part of the session. Peak Cryotherapy Spa also has NormaTec Boots you can use. There are giant relaxing chairs, a TV, and the lights are dimmed low so you can totally just veg out while using the NormaTec. Susan got me a bottle of water, set up my boots, and turned on the machine while I totally just relaxed. I have experienced NormaTec before, and knew I’d love it. It was the perfect end to my first time at Peak Cryotherapy Spa!

cryotherapy | running | marathon training | running plan | recover from running
cryotherapy | running | marathon training | running plan | recover from running

Interested in Cryotherapy? Here are my key takeaways:

On the day I used cryotherapy, I had a very tough workout beforehand, so I was curious how I’d feel the next day compared to how I generally feel post-workout day. During my workout, I actually felt a little high-hamstring tightness, and I was so happy when I woke up the next day after Cryotherapy and had no more tightness! Do I think Cryotherapy is a fix-it-all for any injury? No, but I had a little niggle and it’s no longer there, so I definitely think it helped!

I think Cryotherapy is probably best to use after a hard workout or race. It’s not something I plan to use weekly, but I do plan on taking advantage of Peak Cryotherapy Spa occasionally after a race or hard workout.Before a race? I like the Normatec Boots or a massage. After a race? For sure Cryotherapy. It’s a fantastic recovery tool!

cryotherapy | running | marathon training | running plan | recover from running
cryotherapy | running | marathon training | running plan | recover from running