Thoughtful Thursday…Cryotherapy, compression massage, infrared sauna, oh my!
Welcome to Thoughtful Thursday. This GreenNote Fitness newsletter mindfully gathers and distills useful information that is supportive to our journey. It is my mission to educate, inspire, and propel you into action that moves you towards your goals and life of purpose. Take control of your journey today.
The familiar cold from the nitrogen gas washed over me. Just three minutes at minus 240 degrees. Easy day I thought to myself, especially since I knew soon afterwards I would be in a relaxing recliner with my feet and legs in gigantic boots being systematically compressed and massaged. From there I would immerse myself in a very hot, infrared sauna.
This therapeutic trio session felt spectacular. What I saw on my self-quantification device the next day though did surprise me. More on that later. Let’s get into the details of this experience.
Recently I returned for a cryotherapy treatment which you have learned about in this newsletter. Since my last visit, the cryotherapy services provider had added both compression/massage and an infrared sauna. There is a growing body of research on benefits of all three of these protocols. I needed to give it a try.
My session began with three minutes in the cryotherapy chamber set at minus 240 degrees. Wearing socks, slippers, gloves and a smile, I talked with the technician as my body was enveloped in liquid nitrogen. That’s right - burrrr! I stayed focused on the many benefits like immunity boost, inflammation reduction, and calorie burn.
From there I went to another room that was comprised of two awesome looking recliner chairs. Taking a seat, the technician helped me don two separate gigantic “boots” that went from my feet up to my hips. Once zipped in and a push of the button, the compression slowly started around my feet and on up to upper thighs. Feels like being “squeezed”, then it slowly releases the compression going back down to the feet. This repeated for 30 minutes, up and down, compression, compression, compression, release, release, release.
My intention during this session was to review my book, Atomic Habits; however, the lighting was not conducive to that so instead I closed my eyes and did some box breathing. After the 30 minutes was up and I was out of the boots, I could tell that my legs felt a-m-a-z-i-n-g. Wow!
After that 30 minutes of bliss, it was on to the infrared sauna. Infrared saunas use infrared waves to create heat. It is a “dry heat”. There are many benefits to infrared sauna including detoxification, lower blood pressure, muscle growth, and improved brain function. Dr. Rhonda Patrick has written extensively on the research which you can read about further on Tim Ferriss’ blog.
This was my first time in an infrared sauna so the temperature was set at 135 degrees (can go up to 150 degrees). That was a good starting temperature for me. I was in my own room with the sauna in it. It was very relaxing, hot yes, but felt good, probably from being at -240 a little while before that. I used that time to do some journaling - double-whammy - benefits of infrared sauna and journaling. Good for body, mind, and spirit. After 30 minutes in the sauna I was done. Felt really refreshed.
I continued to feel great throughout the day and evening. Now, the interesting thing is what my Sleep Score (overall measure of how you slept) on my self-quantification device indicated upon waking the next morning. Where I had been averaging 89 Sleep Score, I posted a Sleep Score of 96 - the best score since I’ve been tracking my sleep and recovery. My mind and body were reenergized as indicated by my REM (rapid eye movement). Where on average REM counts for 20-25% of total sleep time for adults, my REM was 38%. My Deep Sleep (the most restorative and rejuvenating sleep stage, enabling muscle growth and repair) was 20%. On average, adults spend 15-20% of their total sleep time in deep sleep which generally decreases with age.
My legs still felt great. Was it the compression that did it or a combination of all three? Can’t say for sure but I do want to investigate the compression protocol again on its own. While athletes report recovering faster and having less soreness, older adults, people with swollen legs would greatly benefit. This protocol helps clear lactic acid, increases circulation, and increases mobility and flexibility.
If you are needing to recover from an injury or just want to feel amazing, you may want to give it a try. I will be doing more of all three again and will compare. The important thing to remember is that we operate at our best when we are recovered and have gotten adequate nutrition, movement, and rest. Make your recovery a priority.
Enjoy your journey,
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Did you miss last week’s newsletter on Are emotions linked to longevity ……?