Why 200 degrees below freezing in your underwear could be healthy

This seems totally crazy, but according to a study from the French National Institute of Sport, runners who stand in a -166 degree room for a few minutes after a race can recover their muscle strength some 20 times faster. Cool?

Whole body cryptherapy involves subjecting yourself to seriously cold temperatures for brief periods in order to release endorphins and reduce muscle and joint pain and inflammation, among other things. You strip down to your underwear, put on socks, mittens, and earmuffs to prevent instant frostbite, and then spend about three minutes trying not to die in a chamber that uses liquid nitrogen to cool the air to anywhere from about -160 degrees to -260 degrees. Having lived in Maine for four years, I would personally have thought that such temperatures wouldn't be survivable even with clothes on, but patients report (and blood tests confirm) actual health benefits that can last for weeks.

A recent French study has shown that for runners, using whole body cryotherapy can bring their post-race muscle strength back after just an hour, as opposed to the 24 hours that it would take using infrared (heat-based) therapy. So that's great, I guess, but the whole process still seems like it's probably some form of torture and definitely a little bit nuts.

PlosOne, via io9

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