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Cryotherapy for Running Recovery

Oct 30, 2017 | Running, Running Advice | 10 comments

Does Cryotherapy work for Running_Exercise Recovery?

‘The temperature in the chamber will go down to -140 degrees Celsius’


My initial reaction was, ‘are you joking?’ when I was told that I was about to immerse my body into such freezing conditions for 2 minutes. I’m not good with the cold at the best of times, but willingly standing in a chamber being blasted with air that is colder than the North Pole in knickers, socks and gloves, all in the name of recovery seemed like it wasn’t my best idea ever.

I’d been invited along to the event by Nivea to relaunch their body lotion with added serum to rehydrate and moisturise our skin following the cryotherapy session. I was interested to try it out as a workout recovery, having heard that sports teams are increasingly turning to cryotherapy – and even Harvey (who I’m working with at Function 360 to improve my running strength) has been using cryotherapy.

So the premise behind cryotherapy for fitness recovery is that it increases the rate of muscle repair by pumping ‘new’ oxygenated blood to your muscles. Apparently it helps reduce inflammation and lactic acid. One Cryotherapy website I found explained. ‘

‘the sudden exposure to extreme cold causes severe vasoconstriction of blood vessels in the dermal layer of the skin.  Blood is directed away from the skin and targeted to protect the vital organs. This stabilises the body’s core temperature. Your blood becomes enriched with hormones, oxygen and healing enzymes as it flows to the internal organs. As soon as you finish your treatment, your blood vessels then do the exact opposite – they dilate.  Enriched blood then flows back to the rest of your body.  Your blood flows faster and this assists the lymph system to work more effectively’ 

Does Cryotherapy work for Running_Exercise Recovery?

While researching this blog, I couldn’t find many scientific studies that conclusively provided evidence to support the use of cryotherapy for recovery, however I also didn’t find any that suggested that it did the opposite (although this study concluded that the results did not support the use of cryotherapy for recovery).

It does seem, however, that the benefits associated with icing and muscle soreness and recovery, could be achieved through more traditional ice baths. Although another study did mention the fact that your muscles are cold for hours after an ice-bath as a potential risk for further injury, a problem not seen with cryotherapy. And this study found that clinical-like cryotherapy reduced the inflammatory process by decreasing macrophages infiltration and the accumulation of the inflammatory key markers.

Check out my video here about the experience – don’t forget to subscribe to my channel!

Cryotherapy sessions are said to energise you, whilst also helping to reduce stress and anxiety. Well, I promptly fell asleep in the taxi on the way home, so I’m not sure what the says about the energise claim, although I did feel noticeably calmer. I was interested to learn that the owner of London Cryotherapy Centre is running the New York Marathon next weekend, and this is the first training cycle where she hasn’t been injured, she thinks it’s due to regular cryotherapy sessions.

My conclusion? With a £90 price tag PER SESSION (that’s 50p per second you’re in the tank!) and not enough concrete scientific evidence to support the use of cryotherapy for muscle recovery, I’ll be sticking to ice-baths, ice packs and generally freezing my ass off as I walk back from the coffee shop at the end of a long run…


  1. Gabrielle

    Haha I love that you calculated the price per second! I tried cryotherapy before the Paris Marathon because my friend found a deal, but I agree I didn’t see much of a difference. We definitely felt kind of woozy and very hungry afterwards!

    • charlotte

      I wonder if it’s just part of the marathon training full time hunger! Fun to find a deal – maybe it would be worth it in Texas just to cool down from the heat!

  2. Rhia Cooper

    It’s interesting that the study doesn’t show any inhibition on muscle healing with the reduction of inflammatory response when inflammation is important to kick start the body’s healing process. I’m running NYC at the weekend and my hotel is giving me a free session at cryofuel, definitely taking them up on that to see if it makes the long flight home more bearable!

  3. Phil Branigan

    It’s a ‘No! from me, sorry as you know I’m a massive fan of what you do. (Exploring everything the rest of us are too scared to try.) Our bodies are designed to survive so anything that deliberately diverts blood from any extremity to the core is wrong and could in fact trigger a shock cardiac reaction which would be quite damaging. I believe in science (as do you) so until I see evidence that doing a rapid transition from normal muscular cell temperature to minus whatever, I urge caution, do not give your body a shock it does not need nor want.

    • charlotte

      I agree Phil – it’s also a no from me! Give me an epsom salt warm bath any day!

  4. Heather McClellan

    Oh my goodness! I think I’ll stick to the old traditional ice bath for now – not sure I could handle either the price or being that cold, haha

    • charlotte

      No exactly! Although it was actually less painful than an ice bath!

  5. Georgie Islip

    I’ve heard that there is no scientific evidence to prove that ice works. I personally love getting into a warm bath/tub/hot tub when I finish a long run and I have found this works well to reduce muscle soreness.

    • charlotte

      I think there’s no definitive answer and agree, after a long cold run I LOVE a warm epsom salt bath. Whatever works for you and your muscle recovery is best (in my opinion!)


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