What is whole body cryotherapy?

Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Franck Ribery have all been pictured using cryotherapy chambers, so FFT decided to see what all the fuss is about...

What is it?
A recovery method used by professional footballers to accelerate rehabilitation from injuries and ease muscle soreness.
 
How does it work?
Athletes stand in a chamber exposing their bodies to extreme temperatures as low as -85C, wearing little else but their underpants for up to six minutes. Fun.
 
Who uses it?
Champions League winners Cristiano Ronaldo and Franck Ribery, plus Zlatan Ibrahimovic, have all been willing to feel the chill in the name of fitness.
 
Recommended article: Recovery: A how to guide
 
Why are they using it?
The cold causes your body to go into shock mode. Blood vessels narrow to reduce circulation and protect internal organs. When you step out, blood rich in anti-inflammatory substances floods the body, breaking down lactic acid.
 
How much does it cost?
CR7 splashed out £36,000 on his, but you can save yourself a few quid by spending £50 on a single session at the BMI Hendon Hospital.
 
Does it really work? 
Always at your service, FourFourTwo decided to pop along and find out… 
 
Wooly hat? Check. Surgical mask? Check. Gloves? Yep. Socks? Got it. Navy blue crocs?! Looking like Mr Muscle’s anaemic cousin, FFT stepped towards a swirling, whirring blur of biting cold.
 
Minus 85 degrees can’t be that bad. Sure, it’s colder than Antarctica, but this was important research. 

More after the break

At least we had Rihanna for company. No, she wasn’t taking part in a twin session. Cryotherapy users are able to plug their headphones into a dock and play music inside the chamber. We can confirm that Caribbean vocals do very little to thaw out frozen chest hair.
 
The first minute was a frantic battle for breath. What’s wrong with hot yoga? The photographer smirked on the other side of the glass in the nice warm room. A bit of macho posturing helped pass the time... for another 60 seconds.
 

 
The finish line slowly neared. Was hypothermia imminent? And would frostbite be claiming a few toes? The cold does wonders for the imagination.
 
At last, a knock at the door signalled the end of this three-minute torture. 
 
Triumphantly, we emerged - mission completed and feeling invigorated as the blood rushed back through the old capillaries. For 48 hours, FFT felt refreshed, revitalised and ready to get stuck into back-to-back games. 
VERDICT: Cryo is the real deal.
 
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