The fitness game has really levelled up. Long gone are the recommendations to simply eat well, run a little, and drinks lots of water. We now live in a world filled with mermaid aerobics, aerial yoga and ‘flowing’ like an animal. With all the new trends in exercise, it’s only natural we step up our recovery game, too. You may have seen Instagram photos of super sweaty infrared saunas, or the icy spillover from a cryotherapy chamber. But are you sure of what they do – and which is best for you? Allow us to break it down.

Infrared sauna

The lowdown: If you’re into breaking a sweat, you’ll love this! Unlike a normal sauna, an infrared sauna uses infrared wavelengths to raise the body’s temperature from the inside out. For approximately 45 minutes, you’ll hang out in a wooden room where temperatures can rise to between 35-54C. This may sound easy, but don’t be fooled – things get hot. Be sure to bring a towel and stay hydrated!

Why do it: Infrared saunas claim to aid in detoxification, weight loss, anti-aging, chronic illnesses, skin health, immune system, and world peace. OK, maybe not world peace ­­– but there’s very little it won’t attempt to improve! Sweating increases blood circulation, which draws out out heavy metals and toxins, that are then carried of the body via the pores. Oxygen is drawn to the skin, and you’re left with a healthy glow. Infrared wavelengths also penetrate deep within your muscles and tissues, which allows blood flow to rush to inflamed and aggravated areas. This loosens up tired and over-trained muscles.

Cryotherapy chamber

The lowdown: Used by professional athletes and gym junkies alike, cryotherapy was originally invented as a treatment for arthritis. Before entering a cryotherapy chamber, you’ll be asked to strip down and put on special gloves and socks. Then, you’re led into a machine that emits a fine mist of nitrogen. Once the nitrogen causes temps to drop as low as -170C, the treatment begins. You simply stand there, and the cold will send your body into survival mode as it fights to regulate core temperature. If this sounds a bit too intense, don’t worry – you’ll always be supervised during a treatment, and the whole thing lasts for less than 3 minutes.

Why do it? In a pinch, and need a quick fix? Cryotherapy is a fast, full-body treatment. Just 3 minutes in the chamber is said to reduce inflammation, boost your immune system, and release heaps of endorphins. The extreme cold basically freezes your body, and acts in the same way a freezer pack would. This makes it fantastic for injuries and troublesome joints. Because of its anti-inflammatory effects, regular cryotherapy sessions can decrease recovery time by up to 50%, which is pretty crazy, considering how quick the treatment is.

The verdict

Wondering which one to try? The simple answer is both! But if you have to choose one (we know they can get a bit pricey), ask yourself how you’re feeling. If you’re feeling stressed or experiencing minor fatigue, try heading to an infrared sauna for a relaxing sweat sesh. If you need a little TLC on some sore muscles and joints or need to bounce back quickly, try cryotherapy. Regardless of what you choose, both are good options to add to your regular training schedule. They’ll help protect your body, so you can keep reaching your full potential.