By Danni Levy
Photography by @jesseesolis
Linebacker legend Jaylon Smith was named the Dallas Cowboys’ nominee for the 2020 Walter Payton NFL Man of The Year award. The secret behind his celebrated football career? Staying ice cold with cryotherapy.
Jaylon Smith uses whole body cryotherapy to reduce inflammation throughout the body. The increasingly popular cold shock has become the go-to recovery method for top athletes and Smith is no exception to the growing fanbase of elite sportsmen who add this innovative strategy to their arsenal to help improve performance.
Cryotherapy originated in Japan in 1978 to treat those with autoimmune disorders and high levels of inflammation. Over the last 40+ years it has evolved into rehab clinics, physical therapy clinics, and sports training centers all over the world.
“I couldn’t live without cryotherapy”
Three minutes inside a full walk-in chamber at -150°F may not sound appealing, but unlike an ice bath, the dry cold provides a cold but comfortable feeling during the session.
The cold ambient air inside of the chamber decreases the skin’s temperature, not the body’s core temperature, which stimulates the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is the largest central communication tool in the body, transferring data from the brain to the rest of the body.
“When I feel good after a hard day, it’s usually because I coupled it with cryotherapy.”
“I started using cryotherapy after my senior year of college,” reveals Smith. “I’d suffered an injury and wanted to find something that would get me back to the field of play faster.
“I’ve kept it up ever since and now I couldn’t live without cryotherapy. It really eases soreness and assists in optimal recovery. When I feel good after a hard day, it’s usually because I coupled it with cryotherapy.”
When stimulating the vagus nerve, your body registers one of two responses: You activate the sympathetic nervous system in ‘fight or flight’ mode, which is the response that happens when you wake up in the morning (it’s telling your body to be awake and alert). This gives you a good endorphin release along with some other mental clarity and energy qualities.
You activate the parasympathetic nervous systems in ‘rest or digest’ mode, which enables your body and mind to relax and shut down to be in a resting state. This is essentially what happens when you fall asleep at night.
The reduction of inflammation can help with various things from a mental and physical standpoint. Stress, anxiety, depression, focus, soreness, injury, skin disorders, anti-aging qualities and many other things are connected to inflammation.
Whole body cryotherapy is truly a non-invasive total wellness modality. Every person walking the planet harnesses some level of inflammation.