Healing the body at 250 degrees below

As the winter season winds down, it’s hard to imagine intentionally putting your body into a specially designed chamber that would expose your bare skin to temperatures as low as minus 250 degrees Fahrenheit. 

But that’s what I did recently at Nordic Cryotherapy in Eastchester — and all in the name of wellness.

Cryotherapy, which dates from 2500 B.C. to the ancient Egyptians, has been used by European athletes since the 1970s. Today superstars such as basketball superstar LeBron James and former boxer-turned-promoter Floyd Mayweather understand and appreciate the benefits of this therapy.  From treating serious debilitating diseases such as arthritis and fibromyalgia to the enhancement of sports performance, cryotherapy has become a valuable tool. 

As a fitness professional always looking for new and improved wellness techniques, I wanted to try it out for myself.  In the past, this therapy has been frequently used for pharmacotherapy and kinesiotherapy in rheumatologic and neurological diseases. However, recently its application has been effective for quicker athletic recovery and also for cosmetic enhancements. Dr. Marie O’Connor understood these benefits and recently opened Nordic Cryotherapy. 

After giving some background information and filling out the proper paperwork, I’m ushered into a room where I am told to put on a robe, mittens and slippers. Once the chamber was available, I disrobed and exposed my body from the neck down to the chilling air.   

One of the greatest benefits of cryotherapy is how quick and painless the entire treatment procedure is for patients.  “We have several members that would come in about three times a week,” Marie says. 

She describes dozens of documented benefits, including a reduction in pain and inflammation, quicker athletic recovery, improved circulation, boosted metabolism, help with depression and anxiety and prevention of osteoporosis.

But many of Marie’s clients come for the beautifying effects of this nitrogen blast, including cellulite reduction and tighter skin.  

The 2- to 3-minute blast of liquid nitrogen vapors only affects the outer layers of the body but triggers the brain to produce anti-inflammatory proteins as it goes into survival mode.  Your blood quickly travels to your core organs, which gets enriched oxygen.  

Once the treatment is done, the enriched blood travels throughout your body and begins the healing process, repairing tissue damage. Due to the dramatic stimulation of a body’s immune response, this leads to an increase in circulation, metabolism, detoxification, tissue repair and immune function.

For those a little hesitant about voluntarily stepping into frigid temperatures for up to three minutes, Marie is confident in the therapy’s ability to deliver.  “Three minutes of cold temperatures is nothing compared to the way you will feel when you step out.  I rarely have people end their sessions early.  In fact, I do it every day.”  

Whole body cryotherapy is not FDA-approved, nor is it recommended for pregnant women or those people who have heart conditions. Before trying any new treatment, check with your physician.

Reach Giovanni on twitter @GiovanniRoselli and his website, GiovanniRoselli.com.

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