Cryotherapy: Do New Nitrogen Tanks Actually Boost Workouts, Help Weight Loss?

By Martha Ross
Contra Costa Times.

The 42-year-old lieutenant colonel stationed at Moffett Field said she tried “everything” from cortisone shots to acupuncture, none of which offered her more than a few hours’ relief.

Now the Sunnyvale woman can go for days pain-free after trying something that initially sounded extreme: subjecting her body to flash freezing for two to three minutes at a time.

Once or twice a week, she goes to the Peninsula Wellness Centre in Mountain View to stand neck-high in a closetlike tank while a fog of liquid nitrogen gas billows around her underwear-clad body. The fog takes the temperature in the tank down to 230 to 250 degrees below zero Fahrenheit — colder than any natural place on Earth.

The technique is called whole-body cryotherapy, and yes, it may be coming to a spa, sports medicine clinic or wellness center near you.

Depending on whom you talk to, cryotherapy is either the latest fad, boasting a range of yet-to-be proven benefits — while boosting the interests of a largely unregulated industry — or, it’s a cutting-edge therapy that can genuinely help people such as Toy resume active, normal lives. It has also become de rigueur for a growing number of elite athletes — LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and, most recently, members of the Green Bay Packers. These pros, as well as celebrities such as Daniel Craig prepping for his latest James Bond outing, use it to reduce the aches and inflammation caused by tough workouts so they can recover quickly, exercise harder and boost performance.

“This is a supercharged ice bath,” says Landan Laurusaitis, a personal trainer, former college football lineman, and co-founder of the recently opened Performist cryotherapy studio in Palo Alto. “I’ve done a lot of ice baths, and they work wonders on your recovery, but it’s not pleasant. This only takes three minutes. It basically gives you all the impact of an ice bath in a fraction of the time.”

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