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Why Celebrities Are Obsessed With Cryotherapy and Muscle Lab

There’s a new health and wellness trend among celebrities and workout fanatics alike. What is it? – Cryotherapy. Whole body cryotherapy involves standing in the buff in a vessel of hyper-chilled air. Why is this super-cool craze so hot right now? Read on to learn more about cryotherapy and why the rich and famous – and lesser-known, but just as amazing people – are so hyped about it, and why they have made Muscle Lab, LA’s leading wellness and muscle recovery lounge, one of their favorite spots to hang out. 

What is cryotherapy, anyway? 

Cryotherapy is literally defined as “cold therapy”. In other words, any type of therapy that involves the use of extreme cold as a form of treatment is cryotherapy. If you’ve ever applied ice packs to an ease achy muscle after working out, then technically, you’ve used cryotherapy. The practice that’s used as Muscle Lab and that celebrities and fitness enthusiasts are swooning over, however, is whole-body cryotherapy, or WBC, for short. 

With WBC, as the name suggests, the entire body is exposed to freezing cold temperatures (usually between -166 to as low as -320 degrees Fahrenheit) for a period of approximately 3 minutes.  

A brief history of cryotherapy

The practice of using low temperatures for therapeutic benefit started as early as the 17th century, but it wasn’t until the 1970s when it became more common-place. In 1978, Dr. Yamaguchi of Japan started using cold temperatures as a way to ease rheumatoid arthritis pain. He applied freezing temperatures to the surface of his patients’ skin, which rapidly reduced the outer layer of their skin, which proved to provide immediate pain relief. Yamaguchi and his colleagues determined that using a cryobooth to quickly freeze the surface of the skin over a brief period of time was more beneficial than gradually cooling the skin via soaking in an uncomfortable ice bath.  

In 1981, Dr. Yamaguchi presented his cryotherapy findings to the European Congress on Arthritis. He informed the congress that not only did whole-body cryotherapy markedly minimize the pain and inflammation that his rheumatoid arthritis patients suffered from, but that the therapy also had significantly greater impact on healing the body. 

Since Dr. Yamaguchi’s findings, medical professionals and physicians who specialize in a variety of practices, progressed the therapy, and now, whole-body cryotherapy is a well-established, highly powerful therapy that is used to treat inflammation that is associated with various types of disorders and injuries. WBC has been shown to effectively minimize pain and swelling, while also boosting physical performance. Thanks to the many adaptive physiologically-related responses, WBC has also been examined for use as an adjunct therapy for a variety of other conditions, such as cardiovascular strengthening, multiple sclerosis, atopic dermatitis, depression, and even weight loss.  

How does it work? 

So, how does whole-body cryotherapy work? Well, when you're exposed to extremely cold temperatures, it reacts by undergoing a biological process known as “vasoconstriction”, which centralizes the blood around your visceral organs, and oxygenates the blood. Oxygenated blood is nutrient-rich, and as nutrient-rich blood circulates, it promotes healing and boosts energy levels. 

As the skin reacts to the cold, it sends a message to the brain, which then stimulates the body’s regulatory functions. Exposing the skin to such extremely cold temperatures also triggers the brain to release endorphins and molecules that have anti-inflammatory effects. In other words, rapid exposure to sub-zero temperatures sends you into its natural “fight or flight” mode, a survival mechanism that encourages the body to bypass thermoregulation and instead, concentrates on triggering the redirection of blood that under normal temperatures travels to the surface of the skin and instead, focuses on vital organs, thus insulating and maintaining the temperature of the core. As your blood vessels constrict, oxygenated blood and anti-inflammatory proteins will circulate through your body, excess amounts of white blood cells will be flushed out, and your metabolic rate will increase. 

What does cryotherapy entail? 

As the name suggests, whole-body cryotherapy involves exposing the entire body (with the exception of the head) to exceptionally cold temperatures. To do this, a cryosauna, a chamber that kind of resembles a tube, is used. Basically, you enter a private room, undress, put on a pair of gloves and botties to protect your hands and feet, and step into the chamber; your head sticks out of an opening at the top of the chamber. Once you’re ready, liquid nitrogen is used to instantly cool the temperature, and exposure to the ultra-cold temperatures immediately sends the body into the fight or flight mechanism (which was discussed above).  

You’ll remain in the cryosauna for up to 3 minutes (if you decide that you want to exit the chamber sooner, you can), and once you exit the cold air and return to normal temperatures, your blood vessels will dilate and oxygenated blood and endorphins will charge through the body. In an effort to warm up and return to equilibrium, you’ll experience a metabolic reaction that will burn as much as 800 calories in the hours that follow your session. 

Why are celebrities obsessed with cryotherapy? 

Whether you’re star-struck and follow celebrity news, or you just can’t avoid hearing about it because you live in the Los Angeles area, you have probably noticed a lot of buzz coming from public figures about cryotherapy. Jennifer Aniston, Demi Moore, Daniel Craig, and Cristiano Ronaldo – and even entire pro sports teams, like the New York Knicks – all swear by WBC. Why? – Here’s a look at just some of the reasons the benefits these personalities have cited they experience as a result of cryotherapy: 

  • Migraine relief
  • Nerve pain reduction
  • Decreased anxiety and depression
  • Improved skin health and appearance 
  • Reduced inflammation  
  • Improved post-workout recovery 
  • Weight loss support

These are just some of the benefits that celebrities have been screaming they experience as a result of whole-body cryotherapy. Whether you’re a professional athlete, a fitness enthusiast, you’re looking for natural remedies for your aches and pains, or you want to try and support your weight loss efforts – whatever the case may be, if you’re interested in learning more about this super-cold, unique type of therapy and you live in the Los Angeles area, book a cryotherapy session at Muscle Lab, an all-in-one muscle recovery and wellness lounge. Who knows, you might run into some of your favorite stars, too!