If the idea of traditional winter swimming fails to excite you, try spending three minutes in temperatures of up to 110 degrees below zero! The luxurious Finnish Haikko Spa located less than 50km east of Helsinki has turned an old pain relieving method into an energising spa treatment subjecting the body to extremely cold conditions and causing the skin’s surface temperature to drop down to between 3 and 4 degrees centigrade. The use of low temperatures in medical therapy is known as cryotherapy. Initially developed in Japan in the late 1800s to provide pain relief for conditions such as rheumatism, sports physicians have since rediscovered the method and have started applying it in routine treatments and sports therapy. It wasn’t long before health specialists, particularly in Eastern Europe, started to recognise the positive effects on a range of health problems such as insomnia, stress and skin conditions. In 2003, the Haikko Spa in Porvoo, Finland became the first Finnish spa to offer super cold treatments and the first cryo-treatment unit in the world to use a combination of electricity and liquid nitrogen to create the necessary cold temperatures. Guests are recommended to wear a swimming costume and protective headgear, mittens, socks and slippers provided by the spa. The trained staff will supervise the treatment which involves walking through two insulated rooms with temperatures of -30 and -60 °C before entering the super cool treatment room where temperatures will drop down to -110 °C. Here guests will spend from between one to three minutes, depending on the specific recommended treatment. Whilst exposed to such cool conditions, the temperature receptors in the skin send messages to the brain communicating the low temperatures. This triggers reactions in the circulatory, endocrine, immune and central nervous systems which gives a distinctive physical rush.
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