Courtesy of The Raithwaite Estate Spa, N Yorks

UK Spa Association

News and views from the UK Spa Association






Jennifer Aniston’s doing it, Roger Federer can’t get enough of it and Ronaldo does it regularly in his own home. What are we talking about? The newest technology to come to spa Cryo Therapy. It’s a term you may have heard of so let’s discuss the what’s why’s & wherefores.

Cryo Therapy can be delivered in two ways; gas or electric and we’re talking about the incredible effect the electric method has had on extreme athletes and how their recovery is accelerated. To put it into perspective even the warmest of chambers the smaller single cryo units, run at approximately 4 times colder than your domestic freezer, the larger ones exceed that.

As spa moves ever more over to delivering protocols and therapies with wellness in mind, Whole Body Cryo Therapy (WBCT) chambers are being installed in leading, cutting edge hotels, resorts and spa facilities up and down the country as wellness takes a turn on spa direction, lets look at why WBCT will soon be the ‘go to’ service in all leading spas.


  • WBCT involves exposing the body to temperatures colder than -100 (-166℉) for two to four minutes, with a threshold of -100ºC being crucial
  • WBCT must include the head, for best therapy, otherwise it is classed as partial body cryo
  • WBCT is optimised when delivered quickly and in a dry, airflow and temperature managed chamber.




When air is subjected to sub-zero temperatures the oxygen molecules reduce in size and consequently oxygen volume increases. Whilst in the chamber your intake of breath increases uptake of vital oxygen. Oxygen is the energy, fire, fuel of every cell, but it also detoxes and fights bacteria.

In a dry environment and in a controlled chamber, this increased oxygen can be absorbed and utilized by the body.

WBCT is best when air flows smoothly and sweeps evenly over the entire body at a constant temperature.  This helps the skin temperature reduce evenly and quicker for maximum impact and optimises the time in the chamber. Dry even air flow moving gently around the chamber also adds greatly to the client’s comfort and the whole experience, which is more pleasant than you might first think…. once you overcome the initial apprehension of course.



  1. Overall Skin temperature reduces. The quicker and more evenly this occurs the better. The Skin can reach as low as 5ºC
  2. Thermo receptors on the skin alert the brain to the potential dangers from exposure to extreme cold; The brain then triggers a Cold Shock Response
  3. The parasympathetic Nervous system is automatically stimulated and as result endorphins are released and flood the body
  4. Vaso-Constriction occurs.
  5. Release of White Blood cells is reduced (White cells are associated with pain and inflammation and impede healing.) Reducing the release of white blood cells is a crucial aspect of the real benefit of cryo therapy on pain and inflammation
  6. Blood is drawn from the extremities to the core to protect major organs; at the core the blood is Re-Oxygenated, re-nourished with micronutrients, and freshly filtered.
  7. The brain triggers the metabolization of fat cells; White fat is converted to brown (White fat known as adult fat is stored within the body, whilst brown fat (pre-puberty fat) converts quickly to energy and heat
  8. Inflammation, swelling, stiffness is reduced
  9. Pain receptors are controlled to help dampen electronic messages to the brain, and so pain is dulled, sometimes to dramatic effect. In fact Cryo therapy began as a real and effective treatment for pain and arthritis. Regular and repeated sessions in a chamber can help with long-term and even acute pain as well as minor aches. The reduction of swelling and inflammation, added to the reduction of pain help clients increase mobility and flexibility which is why cryo is not just for youthful, active athletes, but why we see octogenarians amongst its regular users also.
  10. Natural mindfulness is increased naturally as instinctively clients concentrate on their whole body whilst within the chamber
  11. Creates natural analgesic and stimulation of hyaluronic, collagen, elastin and will detox and plump


  1. After 3 minutes the client exits the therapy chamber
  2. Instantly and rapidly Vaso dilation occurs
  3. Circulation increases to the whole body
  4. Re-oxygenated blood rushes around the body with force, unblocking trapped toxins, effectively delivering a potent and powerful inner detox.
  5. ATP within cells is stimulated. This dramatically stimulates cell regeneration, division and turnover
  6. Cells are energized and nourished
  7. Immune system is stimulated
  8. Parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems are stimulated
  9. The Vagus nerve is toned for ongoing gut health and anti-inflammation.
  10. Digestive system is stimulated and cleansed
  11. Synapses within the brain are increased for brain health and memory formation
  12. Cognitive activity is stimulated for increased focus and clarity
  13. Endocrine system is stimulated and feel good hormones rush around the body
  14. Increased Oxygen availability helps the body to become more alkaline than acidic
  15. Fat continues in brown fat mode to enable better fat burning during exercise post cryo exposure, to optimise weight loss
  16. Circadian rhythms of the body are restored and sleep post cryo therapy is deeper, and of better quality. Sleep Apnoea benefits greatly from regular restorative cryo which helps to reset the body’s natural rhythms
  17. Skin is greatly improved. Clearer skin is a result of a thorough interior and effective detox, as well as nourished fresh oxygen surging to feed the basal layer. Lines, wrinkles are all diminished as Collagen, hyaluronic acid and elastin are naturally stimulated.
  18. The entire body is detoxed, recharged, re-energised and rejuvenated. It is in effect a reset for the body that helps empower the body to look after, heal and repair itself.

The increased rush of oxygen to the brain as well as the diminished inflammation and the stimulation of endorphins, ensure that actually, most cryo users will rush to repeat the therapy time after time. You feel a buzz, alive, clarity, focus and energy, with aches and pains diminished and the skin revitalised and tingling.


It comes as no surprise that with modern lifestyles; poor eating habits and work life pressures mean increased stress levels. Inflammation in both the mind and body can trigger an imbalance which if not addressed can result in dis-ease or dis-harmonious organ function. WBCT reduces inflammation thus resulting in reduced chronic pain associated with many current lifestyle stresses. My experience has had a significant impact on me so much so that I find myself writing this article for you to benefit from; once I’d overcome the fear (eventually!) and shared the chamber with a long-suffering MS patient who took WBCT x2 a day to manage his condition and sat with two Olympic athletes comparing notes post treatment, I was incredibly aware at how calm I felt. My ongoing lower back pain had ceased, and I had almost talked myself into having ‘another go’ before I left the facility. The out bound flight I was due on put stop to that idea however the calmness I felt and the very best nights sleep I’d had in months was to follow and for a good week or so after. The entire experience took less that 15 minutes from entering the facility to leaving and something that I felt I could commit too even in a lunch break. All I need now are more spas offering this service to help keep the inflamed cells calm.


As the Vice Chair and writing on behalf of the UK Spa Association, Lisa Barden is also the Founder of Barden Spa Ltd with over 20 years experience in the spa and wellness industry. Nominated as a top 50 industry influencer (Professional Wellness Conference 2016), Lisa is a Reiki Master Teacher and Practitioner, Holistic & Beauty Therapist and qualified Teacher in Adult Learning. She also practices Ayurveda, Thai, TCM and European treatment techniques.

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