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Stripping off your clothes and stepping into the freezing cold sounds a lot like torture, right? Well, according to cryotherapy proponents, exposing your limbs to sub-zero temps can do a body good.

Originally developed by a Japanese rheumatologist in 1978 to treat arthritis, cryotherapy has recently gone mainstream thanks to its long list of reported benefits, which include pain relief, inflammation reduction, improved endurance, and better sleep. Over the last couple of years, cryotherapy centers have cropped up across the United States, including two here in Park City: Cryo Lodge (1351 Kearns Blvd, 435.565.1034) and Stone Cold Cryotherapy (1748 Redstone Center Dr, 435.575.3030). “Cryotherapy puts your body in a fight-or-flight response,” says Cryo Lodge’s Courtney Miedema. “It forces your body to flush out toxins and produce endorphins.”

The treatment is simple and fast: “chillers” step into a negative 150- to 250-degree, liquid nitrogen–vapor (more tolerable than a wet cold) cryo-sauna for just three minutes. The practice is especially popular among elite athletes like NBA star LeBron James and pro-skier Daron Rahlves.

But before you indulge in this frigid fad, consider this: most of the reported benefits of cryotherapy are anecdotal—clinical research into cryotherapy is scant at best—and the practice is not approved by the FDA. And it’s not cheap. One session will set you back about $100. Which is about $100 more than the time-honored ski town method for chilling out: jumping from the hot tub into the snow.

 

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