Cryosaunas: a head above the rest
When it comes to cryotherapy what method is best? When choosing how to benefit from cryotherapy there are many spas offering different methods from ice baths, cold rooms, or cryotherapy chambers. Professional-level services have two choices: cryotherapy with or without your head being cooled. Enclosed cryotherapy rooms are just that: head-to-toe cold air therapy. This is conducted in a closed and sealed room where you expose your entire head and body to cold air. This treatment is designed to reap the same benefits of the age-old practice of sitting in a bathtub of ice water to support healing and recovery. Scientists have now developed a more efficient method by designing a cryotherapy chamber that doesn’t freeze your head. Instead of being locked in a cold and sealed room cryotherapy saunas (A.K.A. cryosaunas) allow you to stand up and keep your head and face from being chilled. Cryosaunas offer better therapy at colder temperatures and don’t freeze your face!
You need your head! Don’t freeze your head!
A recent scientific study conducted with research teams from U.C. Davis and the National Institute of Sport, Exercise, and Performance in Paris, France, compared the two methods and authored a peer-reviewed article to the sports science community. This study is known as the Louis study, named after famed sports scientist Dr. Julien Louis who designed the experiment. The findings were celebrated by athletes and sports therapists worldwide: cryosaunas are quickly becoming the industry leader. So what’s the difference?
Old ways aren’t always the best ways
In cryotherapy the freezing temperatures shunt the blood to the body’s core in a protective “fight or flight” response. Once the therapy session is over the body returns the warm blood to the outer tissues enriched with oxygen and healing nutrients. Enclosed cryotherapy rooms have been used for over 40 years. They expose the head and body to below freezing temperatures using chilled air, but they simply do not represent the best in science and sports therapy today. In the Louis study the scientists asked a simple question for cryotherapy: is it better to have the head exposed to the cold air or not? Their study found the therapeutic results were the same:
Cooling the head was not better and the healing response of cold therapy is due to the below freezing temperatures in both methods. Stated simply the difference is not due to exposing the head to cold temperatures, but chilling the whole body from shoulders down.
In Dr. Louis’ words: “…the key factor influencing the body response to cryostimulation might be the magnitude of the reduction of body temperature rather than the head cooling.”¹
A person’s face is one of the most sensitive areas of the body, and the only area that contains all five senses of sight, sound, smell, taste, and temperature. People have complained of claustrophobia and panic from feeling locked in the enclosed cryotherapy room. Athletes have experienced headaches, earaches, and severely dry lips after being in an enclosed cryotherapy room for as little as 2 minutes! Cryosaunas solve these problems by allowing you to stand in an open therapy chamber with your face and head protected from the cold temperature. Your head is “out” of the therapy chamber and thus not in danger of being chilled while your body benefits from the best of cutting-edge cryotherapy from the neck down, all while being able to have a casual conversation with the operator.
Some Chilling Facts
33% of all mental health spending in the United States is spent on anxiety disorders.² Nobody wants to have a panic attack at a health spa or be embarrassed by having to admit they felt trapped. It is vital to spa owners that their clients have a positive first cryo experience. Enclosed cryo chambers aggravate spatial anxiety and the uncomfortable experience can drive clients away from cryo forever. Enclosed cryo chambers have caused fear of no escape from being closed in a small space (claustrophobia) or the fear of being trapped (cleithrophobia). Along with generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and agoraphobia (fear of places where one might be panicked or embarrassed) enough Americans suffer from some form of anxiety disorder that spa owners are looking for a better option. Cryosaunas solve that problem because clients never feel trapped or locked into anything.
Colder temps, mobile, and efficient.
For spa owners the old method of enclosed cryotherapy rooms are limited and expensive. The room can only provide temperatures that the facility equipment supports and require enormous amounts of electricity to operate, as well as taking up valuable space that often requires new construction. Cryosaunas offer a wider range of temperatures (up to 100° colder) and are green-energy efficient. Spa owners can turn the chamber off when it is not in use and can roll it anywhere in their spa and lock the rachet-wheels into place. The advanced science allows the cryosauna to use minimal electricity from any standard 110 volt outlet.
Founded on facts: for peer-reviewed articles, scholarly journals, and articles cited above please see the below sources.
Louis, J., Schaal, K., Bieuzen, F., Le Meur, Y., Filliard, J. R., Volondat, M., Hausswirth, C. (2015). Head Exposure to Cold during Whole-Body Cryostimulation: Influence on Thermal Response and Autonomic Modulation. PloS one, 10(4), e0124776. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0124776