I had my first Cryo recovery session today. Let me start with this, this is absolutely no spa treatment. The word cryo or cryos is a Greek word that means “icy cold” and believe me, this water is icy cold.
Two brave boys in a 6’c water bath !
If you are a runner, I think you will know how amazingly soothing it is to get into a cold pool or just submerge yourself into a cold bath after a tough race. Well this is the ultimate cold pool experience you can hope for, or not. As part of the booking confirmation I also got instructions on what to bring with, apart from the obvious like a bathing suit of some shorts and a towel, it also tell you to bring a long a whole lot of bravery, and believe me, this you should pack first, because the water is not just cold, it is icy cold. We were lucky I believe because we caught it at around 6°c.
Pieter Venter went with me and we both decided to save this appointment until today so we can go there with tired and maybe sore legs after the weekend’s back to back races; the PwC Half Marathon on Saturday and the Garbie 32km yesterday.
When I got to Cryo Recovery in Old Farm Road Office Park, Altie Clark explained what we can expect from getting into this cold bath for the first time and she was clear, “Survive the first two minutes and you will be okay.” and she was right.
I was first. I got changed and then the fun started. I gathered all my bravery an without overthinking it I just climbed into the Cryo bath and oh boy, it was freezing. A minute or so in, I started to feel dizzy and almost off balance, but I decided to hang in there, stepped forward and held onto the sides of the bath. This feeling lasted for a short while, but then, when the first two minutes of torture were over, things dropped to a point of “bearable”. It definitely helps to chat and focus on other things while in there because I think if you are in there alone, one will rapidly reconsider the craziness you got yourself into.
While in there Altie shared some testimonies of people who have benefited from this treatment and also shared some info in other studies they did overseas on the whole idea of low temperature treatment. Very interesting.
The journey to Comrades 2017 started and naturally this means a general increase in training and obviously in kilometers on the road. The kilometers increase and time for proper recovery decreases. Unfortunately, long runs also come with their own set of hazards and the main one is that we as runners risk injury and this usually results in unwelcome time off from training. One simple way to offset this risk is what we as runners know as an ice bath, but be honest now, how many of us go through that whole process of actually doing this. Right, not happening. Well, this is where Cryo treatment will be the answer to your needs.
Basically what happens, while you are in this bath, is that the cold water, together with the added pressure of the Epson salt, plain salt and aerated water, makes your blood vessels smaller and decreases metabolic activity, which reduces swelling, possible spasms, inflammation and tissue breakdown. Once you get out of the bath, the underlying tissue warms up again and trigger faster blood flow, which helps return the by-products of cellular breakdown to the lymph system for efficient recycling by the body. So the ice bath does not only reduce inflammation, but it also help to flush harmful metabolic debris out of your muscles. Quite nifty hey ?
I also suffer from piriformis syndrome that can sometimes really hurt, especially after long drives of flights and when piling up the kilometers on the road, running, like this past weekend. So Altie challenged me to sit on the upper step in the bath with my lower body totally submerged, and I did. That was pushing the envelope, but I thought I am already half way there and can just as well try it. Yes, it took a little extra bravery to do that, but so what, if there is a possibility that it will help, why not.
Well, finally ten minutes was over and I was allowed to get out. When I stepped out of the pool, I could hardly feel my legs when I started to dry myself off with a towel, in fact, it felt like drying off someone else’s legs. It was just kind of numb. A rather strange feeling. The pain in the piriformis was gone, like in totally gone and my legs felt marathon ready. After a few minutes, as the underlying tissue started to warm up again, there was a strange but pleasant sensation in my legs. I also felt cold after a few minutes, like when you shiver in winter, but it came from within.
Later in the afternoon I started to feel the pain in my piriformis again, but not half as bad as before I got into the bath. I also had a spinning class this afternoon, maybe that was not a good idea, but I did it, and right now, as I type this blog, I am feeling fine. My legs are feeling okay and I can honestly say that it does not feel like I did 53.1km in races this weekend and that is a good thing.
So, with all that said, the experience was not that bad. Yes the water is cold and it is not a very pleasant experience while you in there, but you definitely feel revived afterwards. So if you want to shorten your recovery time post exercise, get faster healing of soft tissue injuries, reduce fatigue, lower the risk of new or recurring injuries, treat muscle or joint soreness and fight off inflammation or just boost your neutral and cardio vascular system recovery, then maybe you should also pack a big bag full of bravery and head over to Altie for your very own Cryo treatment session.
You will find Cryo Treatment at 881 Old Farm Drive, Faerie Glen, inside the Old Farm Road Office Park. You can also visit their web page at www.cryorecovery.co.za or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer : This is just a write-up of my own experience and anyone doing this will do so at his or her own risk. Some medical conditions might also exclude you from being a suitable candidate to try this so check this first.