Cryotherapy vs. Infrared Saunas: Which Is Right For You?

08/10/2016
Angela Ranieri
Whole Body Cryotherapy

Whole Body Cryotherapy

Always on the lookout for new ways to stay fit and remain youthful, I found myself curious about Cryotherapy or Infrared Saunas. Both claim to offer healing, rid your body of toxins and beautify “from the inside out”. For some, deciding whether to add either of these treatments to your wellness portfolio may feel like a game of “Would You Rather?” because essentially, you are choosing between extreme cold or extreme heat and many people do not care for either.

I tried both in the name of vanity and hope to help find what is right for you.

The Cold

Cryotherapy was developed in Japan in 1978 to treat arthritis. Even my five-year old knows putting ice on an injury soothes the pain and reduces inflammation, so in principle, it makes sense that entering this machine would help ease joint pain; although that is not why I tried it. This procedure promises a youthful glow and reduction of cellulite. Three minutes in this machine could also burn a few hundred calories. I figured, “why not?” and booked my first appointment.

I’m not going to tell you I was brave about this; I cancelled my appointment twice.

I complain all winter about the northeast cold, so to enter a cryotherapy machine seemed truly like hell on earth. The Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC) machine is at a temperature between -200°F and -240°F (-129°C and -151°C).

You read that correctly. Minus: as in “below zero”!

Whole Body Cryotherapy

Whole Body Cryotherapy

Upon entering the machine, I can only describe the chill as feeling like “pulling my eyelashes out one-at-a-time” kind of cold. You have a chaperone of sorts with you, right outside of the machine, in case of any issues. This chill made northeast winter feel like the cryogenics version of Hawaii. Supposedly, I was burning extra calories because my blood was rushing to my core, making my brain trigger a need for heat, causing my body to work harder and therefore, expend more calories. I could not withstand three minutes, but I did make it to two minutes. Following my service, I was guided to a stationary bike to do some riding to gets my blood flowing.

After I left, I took notice of how I felt overall. I was more energetic, and slept really well that night. Would I do it again? I’m not sure. I know people who enter these machines weekly and love the benefits. I’m just not sure that withstanding what was very uncomfortable to me, would be something I’d plan to do again.

The Hot

On the other end of the spectrum is the option to roast yourself in an Infrared Sauna. These saunas offer similar beauty claims to that of WBC machines, as far as detoxification for a healthy glow and reduced appearance of cellulite. Infrared saunas also claim some calorie burning, since your body has to work to get through the heat.

Infrared Capsule

Infrared Capsule

During my treatment I sat alone in a wooden box that was programmed to between 110°F and 130°F (43°C to 54°C). The heat comes from light rays in the machine. It’s hot, but the heat is dry, which I somewhat enjoyed. I sat for 30 minutes, the maximum time recommended.

Infrared sauna

Infrared sauna

After I left, I assessed how I was feeling and what was most apparent to me, was that I went in to the session with a hip injury, and following the session I felt a great reduction in pain. If you enjoy heat, this may be the better option for you.

Background Information

Infrared Sauna

How it works:
Infrared Saunas use light to create heat. Instead of a traditional sauna, which uses heat to warm the air, Infrared Saunas heat your body, but not the air around you. This allows you to use the sauna at a lower temperature than traditional saunas, making the experience more tolerable to those who can not withstand higher heat found in traditional saunas.

What you will feel: You will sweat, a lot. Your heart rate will increase.

Studies

  • A review by the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver found infrared sauna treatments help in normalizing blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • A 2010 study published in the Journal of Complimentary and Alternative Medicine found that far-infrared sauna use is associated with improved quality of life in people with Type II Diabetes.
  • The Mayo Clinic claims that more research has to be done regarding support for the claims of detoxing the body; however, researchers from Nishi Kyushu University in Japan found that infrared saunas might work to lift your mood.

Cryotherapy

How it works:

WBC consists of exposing the entire body to below zero temperatures, for a between 2 and 4 minutes. The person will stand in a tank or closet-like device, wear minimal clothing and be bathed in liquid nitrogen or cold air.

Juka Cryo Sauna

Juka Cryo Sauna

Juka Cryosauna single-person cryotherapy chamber reaches as low as -170°C; it is the coldest direct injection CryoSauna in the world. Over the last decade, more than two million treatments have been performed using Juka equipment.

With its continuous flow technology and geometric design of the inner cabin, the convection of cryogenic temperatures is optimised. The objective is even spread of coolant.

Another unique feature is the electric lift that adjusts the user’s position based on their height so that their head sticks out, allowing breathing of natural air.

Cryotherapy Multi-User Chamber

Cryotherapy Multi-User Chamber

Multi-user CryoSauna may be preferred by claustrophobic people but protective underwear for ‘delicate bits’ and breathing masks to protect nasal passages from cold, may be needed.

What you will feel: Cold

Studies

  • There is a shortage of studies to support the claims made about the benefits of WBC.
  • The research that is available is unclear in outcome and many of the articles claim that the studies are based on small samples.
  • In my research, I thought it interesting to discover that while WBC is marketed as a wellness service, cryotherapy is not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

 

Opinion

I’m not a doctor, but my recommendation is to go with the service that has more science behind it. If you are in good health and looking to try something new the Infrared Sauna may be for you.

Please note I do not work for, nor am I compensated for either treatment references in this article.
Consult your Physician before trying any new service or procedure.

 

New York City Suggestions

Cryotherapy: KryoLife

Infra-red Sauna: Floating Lotus

 

Author’s Biography
Angela Ranieri joins us as Contributing Editor with an extensive background in Fashion, Beauty and Digital Media. She has worked with PRADA USA Corp., Jurlique, Amore Pacific and the New York Daily News in management capacities including Marketing, Client Relations, Employee Relations and Training Management. She has authored and published the column, “Ask Angela,” featured on the Amore Pacific USA website. Her beauty advice has been featured in Shape and Fitness Magazines and CBS News.

She is a graduate of Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science in Communications and Writing.
Angela also has an MBA in Marketing and Entrepreneurship from Northeastern University. While at Northeastern, her Market Research on the Electric Car was published for University use.

Angela is currently creator of Circuit Cosmetics, a Brand Ambassador for luxury beauty line, Patchology, an On Air Guest for QVC and blogger for www.thelaughinmommy.blogspot.com

In her spare time you can find Angela running, spinning, practicing yoga or getting beautified. She resides on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with her Husband, Son, and Chihuahuas.