Cryotherapy vs Sauna: Comparing Benefits and Differences

The world of wellness is constantly evolving, with new trends and therapies emerging to help us enhance our health and well-being. Two popular methods for boosting recovery and relaxation are cryotherapy and sauna sessions. At their core, both treatments aim to benefit the body through temperature manipulation, but their approaches and effects are quite different.

Cryotherapy involves exposing the body to extremely cold temperatures for a short period, typically between two and four minutes. This therapy is said to reduce inflammation, improve athletic recovery, and increase energy levels. On the other hand, sauna sessions involve spending time in a heated room, either with a traditional or infrared heat source, which can enhance circulation, support relaxation, and promote detoxification through sweat.

With contrasting temperatures, cryotherapy and sauna therapies each offer unique benefits and experiences. Selecting the most suitable option ultimately depends on personal preferences, specific needs, and one’s comfort level with high or low temperatures. This article will delve deeper into understanding cryotherapy and sauna benefits, providing scientific evidence to compare their effectiveness.

Key Takeaways

  • Cryotherapy and sauna are two wellness therapies that use contrasting temperatures to provide distinct benefits.
  • Cryotherapy may reduce inflammation and improve athletic recovery, while sauna sessions can enhance circulation and promote detoxification.
  • Choosing between cryotherapy and sauna depends on personal preferences, specific needs, and comfort with temperature extremes.

Understanding Cryotherapy

Cryotherapy is a cold therapy technique that exposes the body to extremely cold temperatures, often around -200°F. Its origins can be traced back to ancient civilizations, where cold was used to remedy swelling and pain. Modern cryotherapy typically involves stepping into a cryogenic chamber for sessions lasting 2-3 minutes1.

Benefits of Cryotherapy

There are several benefits associated with cryotherapy. These include:

  • Reduced inflammation: Cryotherapy can help decrease inflammation in the body by constricting blood vessels and reducing fluid buildup in affected areas1.
  • Improved muscle recovery: Cold temperatures can help speed up muscle recovery after physical exertion, providing immediate relief from soreness and fatigue2.
  • Increased metabolism: Exposing the body to extreme cold can cause the body to work harder to maintain its core temperature, potentially boosting metabolism3.

Potential Risks of Cryotherapy

While cryotherapy can offer various benefits, it also comes with some potential risks. These include:

  • Frostbite: Exposure to extreme cold can lead to frostbite if proper precautions aren’t taken, such as wearing appropriate protective gear4.
  • Temporary discomfort: Some individuals may experience discomfort, including numbness or tingling sensations, during or immediately after cryotherapy sessions5.
  • Not suitable for everyone: Cryotherapy may not be appropriate for individuals with certain health conditions, such as Raynaud’s Syndrome or poor circulation1. It’s essential to consult a healthcare professional before trying cryotherapy if you have any underlying medical issues.

In summary, cryotherapy can help promote various health benefits, such as reduced inflammation and improved muscle recovery. However, it’s essential to be aware of potential risks and ensure that you take necessary precautions to minimize any adverse effects.

Exploring Sauna

Saunas are a popular form of heat therapy that have been used for centuries to promote relaxation and improve overall well-being. In this section, we will discuss the benefits and potential risks associated with sauna use.

Benefits of Sauna

There are several benefits associated with regular sauna use. Some of these include:

  • Stress relief: The heat and relaxing environment of a sauna can help to alleviate stress, as it encourages the release of endorphins, which are the body’s natural “feel-good” chemicals.
  • Muscle recovery: The increased blood flow and relaxation of muscles that occur in saunas can promote faster recovery after exercise or injury.
  • Improved cardiovascular health: Regular sauna use has been shown to lower blood pressure and improve overall heart health.
  • Detoxification: The sweating induced by sauna use can help to eliminate toxins from the body, promoting better overall health.

Potential Risks of Sauna

While saunas can provide numerous health benefits, there are also some potential risks and precautions to consider:

  • Dehydration: Prolonged exposure to the heat in a sauna can lead to loss of fluids, which may result in dehydration. It’s important to drink plenty of water before and after using a sauna to prevent this issue.
  • Overheating: Prolonged sauna use can cause overheating, which may lead to feelings of dizziness, nausea, or even fainting. Always pay attention to your body and leave the sauna if you start to feel unwell.
  • Pregnancy and certain medical conditions: Pregnant women and those with certain medical conditions, such as heart issues or high blood pressure, should consult with their doctor before using a sauna. Sauna use may not be appropriate for everyone.

In conclusion, saunas offer many benefits for overall health and well-being. However, it’s essential to be aware of the potential risks and take necessary precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable sauna experience.

Comparing Cryotherapy and Sauna


Cryotherapy and saunas both offer a variety of health benefits, though their mechanisms differ. Cryotherapy involves exposing the body to extremely cold temperatures for a short period, which can provide instant but short-term relief from muscle pain, while saunas use heat to induce sweating and relaxation.

Saunas are known for their long-term recovery benefits, which include improved circulation, reduced inflammation, and better sleep. Infrared saunas, a type of dry sauna, share some common benefits with cryotherapy, such as injury recovery, muscle soreness relief, stress reduction, and skin improvement. Cryotherapy, on the other hand, is preferred for quicker recovery and immediate relief. Therefore, the choice between them largely depends on individual preferences and specific health needs.


When used correctly and under professional guidance, both cryotherapy and saunas are considered safe. However, there are some precautions to consider for each therapy. For cryotherapy, be cautious of exposing your body to extreme cold for too long or too frequently, as it can lead to frostbite or other cold-related injuries.

Saunas, especially traditional ones with high heat, can cause dehydration if used for extended periods. Those with medical conditions such as heart issues or high blood pressure should consult a doctor before using saunas. Infrared saunas, however, are considered a safer option as they provide similar benefits at lower temperatures, making them a suitable alternative for people with certain health concerns.


Both cryotherapy and saunas have gained popularity in recent years, with an increasing number of wellness centers and gyms offering these services. Many athletes, particularly those involved in high-intensity sports, have turned to cryotherapy for its rapid recovery benefits and instant relief. Meanwhile, saunas have been a popular choice for centuries and continue to enjoy widespread appeal due to their relaxation and long-term recovery effects. It’s worth noting that infrared saunas have experienced a surge in popularity as they present a more accessible and comfortable option compared to traditional saunas.

Scientific Evidence

Cryotherapy and sauna are two popular and contrasting methods for recovery and overall well-being. Cryotherapy involves exposure to extremely cold temperatures, while saunas utilize heat to provide relaxation and other benefits. Let’s examine the scientific evidence for each.

Whole-body cryotherapy (WBC) has been researched for its potential effects on inflammation, muscle recovery, and mood improvement. In certain studies, WBC has been found to effectively reduce soreness and inflammation, stimulate the body’s natural healing ability and immune function, and improve anxiety, depression, and mood disorders.

On the other hand, sauna bathing has been linked to various cardiovascular benefits as well as its impact on autoimmune and chronic health problems 1( Regular dry sauna bathing has been the subject of a systematic review, which aims to analyze the effects of repeated sauna interventions on human health.

In terms of post-exercise muscle recovery, some studies have found few differences in markers like creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase when comparing whole-body cryotherapy and control groups. It has also been reported that oxidative stress and antioxidant function were similar between nonexercising participants undergoing cryotherapy and a control group.

However, the comparison of cryotherapy versus sauna has not been entirely conclusive. One study published in ScienceDirect observed the effects of whole-body cryotherapy, far-infrared sauna, and passive recovery modalities on exercise-induced muscle damage in highly-trained runners. The findings suggest that there are differences in how these methods affect recovery, but more research is needed to determine definitive outcomes.

In conclusion, both cryotherapy and sauna have demonstrated potential benefits in various aspects of health and recovery. Although some studies have shown promising results, more research is required to fully understand the differences in their effects and to determine the most effective approach for each individual.

Personal Preferences and Considerations

When deciding between cryotherapy and sauna for recovery and wellness, personal preferences and individual considerations play a crucial role. Some individuals may prefer the intense cold of cryotherapy sessions, while others may lean towards the relaxing heat of a sauna.

Duration and frequency of sessions may be a deciding factor for some. Cryotherapy sessions usually last for a short period of time, around 2-3 minutes, whereas sauna sessions can last anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. Depending on one’s schedule and desired recovery time, this can help determine which option is more suitable.

Cost and accessibility may also influence the decision. Cryotherapy sessions can be more expensive than traditional sauna visits, as they often require specialized equipment and facilities. Sauna use is more widely available in gyms and spas, making it a more accessible option for many.

Individuals with specific medical conditions should consult with a healthcare professional before choosing a recovery method. Those with cardiovascular issues or cold intolerance may be advised to avoid cryotherapy, while individuals with heat sensitivity or respiratory problems may need to be careful when using a sauna.

Another aspect to consider is the potential benefits and outcomes of each method. Cryotherapy can provide short-term relief from muscle pain, whereas a sauna can contribute to long-term recovery. Understanding one’s own specific needs and goals can help in making the right choice.

Ultimately, the decision between cryotherapy and sauna depends on individual preferences and circumstances. Understanding the advantages and limitations of each therapy can help individuals make educated choices for their recovery and wellness journey.


In comparing the benefits of cryotherapy and sauna use, it is important to consider their individual effects on the body. Both therapies have been popular in the wellness industry for their respective benefits, but their application and results may vary depending on personal goals and preferences.

Saunas, specifically infrared saunas, have been shown to boost immunity, reduce inflammation, and improve multiple biomarkers critical to longevity. Athletes may find heat therapy especially useful, as it improves both performance and recovery. On the other hand, cryotherapy seems to provide instant, yet short-term relief from muscle pain, but may not have a significant impact on long-term recovery or inflammation management.

Some individuals may prefer to combine both therapies by using a sauna after cryotherapy, as highlighted in SaunaVerse. This approach aims to maximize the benefits of each method, taking advantage of the vasodilation and relaxation induced by heat and the potential pain relief offered by cold exposure. However, it is essential to listen to one’s body and consult with a medical professional before incorporating both therapies simultaneously.

Ultimately, when choosing between cryotherapy and sauna use, it comes down to personal preference and individual needs. Saunas offer more long-term benefits, while cryotherapy provides quick, short-term relief. It’s essential to research and understand the different treatments available and make an informed decision based on personal health goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the primary differences between cryotherapy and sauna?

Cryotherapy involves exposing the body to extremely cold temperatures, usually below -100°C, for a short period of time, typically 2-3 minutes. It is believed to offer benefits like reduced inflammation and muscle recovery. On the other hand, saunas involve exposing the body to high temperatures, around 70-100°C, for longer periods, approximately 10-20 minutes. Saunas are known to induce sweating, detoxification, and help with relaxation, circulation, and stress relief.

Which is more effective for weight loss: cryotherapy or sauna?

While both cryotherapy and sauna sessions can contribute to weight loss, neither should be considered a primary method for losing weight. Saunas may help increase your heart rate, improving circulation and burning calories. But, primarily, they help in detoxification and stress relief. Cryotherapy is not proven to have a significant direct impact on weight loss. The most effective approach to weight loss still includes a healthy diet and regular physical activity.

Can cryotherapy and sauna sessions be safely combined?

Yes, cryotherapy and sauna sessions can be safely combined in a hot and cold wellness routine. However, it is essential to allow your body sufficient time to return to its normal temperature between sessions and listen to your body’s signals. If you feel uncomfortable or unwell during either therapy, stop immediately and consult a healthcare professional.

What are the benefits of cryotherapy compared to sauna?

Cryotherapy is believed to offer benefits like reduced inflammation, faster muscle recovery, and pain management. Saunas, on the other hand, offer benefits such as relaxation, improved circulation, detoxification, and stress relief. In terms of athletic recovery, saunas can boost immunity and improve performance, while cryotherapy may not make meaningful changes to inflammation at a physiological level.

How does cryotherapy versus infrared sauna compare in terms of health benefits?

Cryotherapy and infrared saunas both offer unique health benefits. Cryotherapy focuses on reducing inflammation and promoting muscle recovery. Infrared saunas penetrate deeper into the body tissue, providing benefits like pain relief, skin rejuvenation, improving dry skin, and stress relief. Both treatments can help with injury recovery, muscle soreness, and better sleep, but the choice between the therapies depends on individual preferences and symptoms.

What is the difference in cost between cryotherapy and sauna sessions?

The cost of cryotherapy and sauna sessions can vary depending on the location and type of facility. Cryotherapy sessions are generally more expensive than sauna sessions, with prices ranging from $40 to $100 per session. Infrared sauna sessions can cost between $20 to $50 per session. However, prices may differ based on package offerings and memberships at specific wellness centers.


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