Finland: spa treatments at 110 º below zero!

Finnish spaIf 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.

Comments (3)

  1. Tee says:

    I think you need to check your Fahrenheits and Centrigrades on teh Finnish Haikko Spa article. -110C would kill anyone. Even -30C seems like a lot. I saw nothing under -10C on their website.

  2. Paul Johnson says:

    Hi Tee

    I know it sounds unbelievable but the figures are correct. They don’t appear to mention the cryotherapy on their website at all (at least not on the English version that I could see).

    However, have a read of – there you will notice it states:

    Cryogenic chamber therapy is a treatment whereby the patient is placed in a cryogenic chamber for a short duration (i.e. no more than three minutes, which is comparable to ice swimming), and if used properly, will not destroy tissue… The chamber is cooled, typically with liquid nitrogen, to a temperature of −110 °C (−166.0 °F). The patient is protected from acute frostbite with socks, gloves and mouth and ear protection, but in addition to that, wears nothing but a bathing suit. The patient spends a few minutes in the chamber. During treatment the average skin temperature drops to 12 °C (54 °F), while the coldest skin temperature can be 5 °C (41 °F). The core body temperature remains unchanged during the treatment, however it may drop slightly afterwards. Therapy triggers the release of endorphines which induce analgesia (immediate pain relief).

    Also see this article at which makes specific reference to both the temperatures and to Hotel Haikko Manor and Spa.

  3. Tomi says:

    There is no mistake on this article. -110 Celsius is correct, my wife went there and says it´s fantastic. You have to wear shoes, gloves and a hat of course, but you won´t die trying. :)


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