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Combining Hot, Cold And Oxygen Therapies Can Help With Stress

Cryotherapy, far-infrared saunas and hyperbaric oxygen chambers are popular, but do they work?

04/06/2017 4:31 PM AEST | Updated 04/06/2017 5:38 PM AEST

If you pay attention to Instagram you might have noticed people posting about infrared saunas, cryotherapy, or even hyperbaric oxygen chambers lately. It seems these therapies are the new buzz treatments in the wellness world.

But do they work? Phil Goodwin certainly thinks they do. He's the founder of Body Mind Life, the well respected chain of pilates and yoga studios which he founded 14 years ago. Goodwin now has a new wellness concept, Vrai Health.

Vrai Health are the only clinics of this kind in Australia. You can go for hot, cold or oxygen therapies separately at countless clinics around the country, but Vrai Health, with two locations already (both in Sydney) is the first to combine all three.

Why?

"Individually the therapies are clearly good, but when done in combination the effects are amplified," Goodwin told HuffPost Australia.

"The hot and cold therapies combined are known as 'contrast therapy' and have been long practiced to fortify immune systems and have been practiced in Nordic countries for years. By adding oxygen at the end of that process, it gives you a true energy boost in the cells. Pure oxygen clears and purifies the blood, allows fresh oxygen to flush through your circulation system and is incredibly good for your being."

Let's take a look at each of the therapies separately to understand what they do.

Far Infra Red Sauna

"There are two types of saunas -- wet and dry saunas. FIR Saunas are dry saunas that can heat up to around 70 degrees celsius. In our FIR sauna treatments we use heat, aroma, sound and colour therapies to create unique experiences that relax, detox, stimulate and improve a whole range of healthful outcomes," Goodwin said.

"Heart Disease is the biggest killer in the western world and a recent study from Jama Journal Medical in September 2015 which comprised a study of 2,000 men for over 20 years returned some astounding facts. The study found that sauna use is associated with longevity. Fatal Cardiac Disease in men is 27 percent less for those who use the sauna two to three times per week and 50 percent lower in men who use the sauna four to seven times per week. This was compared to men who use the sauna once per week. In a moderate heat sauna your heart rate can get up to 100 bpm so from a heart health perspective this is equivalent to moderate exercise. It also improves blood pressure over time and boosts athletes endurance and aids in recovery."

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A typical infrared sauna chamber.

Cryotherapy

"Cryotherapy is a concept that cools the exterior layer of the skin with sub-zero blasts of air in a cryo sauna. It involves standing in a purpose-built chamber where nitrogen mist fills the space, taking the temperature down to approximately minus130 degrees celsius. During the treatment, which lasts up to three minutes, the brain stimulates the body's organ regulatory functions, resulting in an energy boost, cell regeneration and enhancing the body's natural healing processes," Goodwin said.

"With the benefits of ice baths known for centuries and as an ancient therapy for treating injuries, reducing inflammation, detoxification and weight loss."

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A typical cryotherapy capsule.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber

"HBOT is one of the most effective treatments for delivering oxygen to the body's cells. An increase of oxygen in cells allows the body to regenerate and restore healthy tissue, making the therapy ideal for recovery from injury, heal wounds and protection from environmental toxins known to lead to poor health and disease," Goodwin said.

"Hyperbaric chambers are simple pressurised enclosures that allow you to experience greater than normal atmospheric pressures. The pressure, combined with purified oxygen, forces the oxygen to dissolve into the body's fluids and travel to other areas in the body that are otherwise difficult to reach."

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Sportspeople (like Nationals pitcher Rafael Soriano) often use hyperbaric chambers to prevent and deal with injury.

Goodwin decided to combine these three therapies as an extension of his yoga and pilates offering after observing the lifestyles and needs of his clients.

"If one is wanting to learn more about the benefits of contrast therapy and the idea of taking your state from one extreme to another, I recommend the learnings of Wim Hof. He's globally renowned for his method of exposure to extremities and what he has achieved and is evident on studies about his ideals is incredible," Goodwin said.

"We all want more energy in life to do the things we want to do. It is essential. Especially in a world where there are so many distractions, stresses, time limits and constraints. More than ever you need to be on top of your game. Integrating the wonderful advancements in technology is important so we can provide people with accurate diagnostics and education so people can make more informed lifestyle choices and decisions."

When Goodwin was looking for these therapies he was shocked to find that they were not available together in the one place.

One of the Vrai Health clinics.

"I really wanted to experience them together. They really are the fastest and most efficient techniques to shift energy when combined together. As HCO therapy is all about positively altering your energy state in as efficient a way as possible, this type of therapy is ideal for the busy people -- think corporates, CEOs, entrepreneurs and basically anyone who suffers a bit of burn out from daily life."

"I personally had a past life as an investment banker and understand the pressures that can come with different careers. What's important is being aware of these pressures and finding ways to rejuvenate and energise the body so that it performs optimally in any given situation," Goodwin said.

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