Teaser Cryo Treatment
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A tale of two saunas: Hot vs cold

Extreme heat and extreme cold may be at opposite ends of the temperature spectrum, but when it comes to wellbeing, they both offer great benefits for our physical health.

The extreme heat of the sauna – typically around 80C but even soaring to plus 110C for real sauna addicts – is the most well known of heat therapy applications. Today, no self-respecting wellness facility, from luxury 5-star spas through to local fitness clubs would be without one.

There’s evidence of saunas, or sweat lodges, dating back to the Stone Age, and they were commonly used by the ancient Maya and Inca tribes of South America. 

The invention of the traditional wooden sauna as we know it today is widely credited to Finland. This little hot box first attracted world attention at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin when the Finnish team built one in their Olympic Village quarters.

Cold therapy also has its place in history, and its use can be dated back as far as Ancient Greek times, while the Ancient Egyptians are also known to have used special cold compresses for pain relief.

It became well established in the 18th and 19th Centuries in northern Europe, particularly in Germany and Austria, where it was customary to use some form of cold hydrotherapy or ice bath to address a variety of complaints.

Around that time a Bavarian priest called Sebastian Kneipp (1821-1897) came up with the idea of using hot and cold temperatures together to promote wellbeing. Kneipp therapy is still widely used in European health spas and involves the alternate used of hot and cold showers, baths and compresses.

A thoroughly modern cold therapy

However, while most people can imagine sweating away in a sauna or taking a short, sharp dip in an icy plunge pool, the concept of the cold sauna (which at a temperature of minus 110C is the direct opposite of the plus 110C heat potential of a regular sauna) presents a whole new wellness adventure – and a small leap of faith into the unknown.

Whole body cryotherapy (or cold sauna) was invented by Professor Toshiro Yamauchi in 1980 as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, while the first cold saunas appeared in Europe from 1984, introduced by the German rheumatologist Professor Reinhard Fricke.

Since the turn of the new millennium, the modern-style cold sauna unit as embodied by Zimmer MedizinSysteme’s icelab has been expanding from use in the fields of sports training and health and medical tourism into the luxury destination spa sector – offering great and varied benefits to all who use it.

So are your spa guests ready for a cool adventure? No need to get cold feet. In the same way that your hot sauna won’t boil them like an egg, we promise our icelab won’t make icicles out of them either!