Lisa Kricfalusi: Why the hottest health trend is cooler than you think
Get ready to revamp your wellness routine by incorporating primal therapies rooted in physical, neurological and spiritual optimization.
If there was something you could do that would benefit mind, body, and mood, wouldn’t it be a no-brainer to try it out? With the help of Lisa Kricfalusi, cold exposure therapist and mental resilience and longevity coach, we look at the incredible benefits that primal therapies like cold and heat therapy can have in our everyday lives. Not only do these therapies allow you to better overcome discomfort on a daily basis, but they also create a space to challenge our perceived limits and discover ourselves on a deeper level.
Q: Can you tell me a little bit about how you got into the field of cold therapy and heat therapy?
A: From a young age, I had the incredible privilege of being immersed in Finnish culture and its wellness traditions. I have been practising cold therapy since I was a little girl, growing up with Finnish roots and spending summers in Helsinki as a child. My grandmother taught me about sauna, simple living, connecting to nature and participating in physical activity – my passion for which culminated in my 10 years spent nationally competing as a synchronized swimmer and coach. Following my coaching and swimming career, I completed my kinesiology degree and made these practices of cold and hot therapy a lifestyle. Practicing daily for years, I was able to develop the mechanisms, protocols and experiences that elevate specific benefits of cold therapy before training others in how to practise it themselves. I then started Unbounded Well with three other founders, friends and the community.
Q: What are some of the benefits of cold and heat therapy?
A: Cold and heat therapy are often used together for treating a range of conditions. Cold therapy has the benefit of decreasing inflammation by reducing the swelling of tissue surrounding an injury, which prevents healing. It also helps reduce pain, muscle spasms and metabolic waste products from the cells. It stimulates cold-shock proteins to be released in the body, treating cell degeneration by way of repairing old and damaged nerve and brain cells. Cold therapy also supports metabolism regulation and the oxidation of white adipose tissue (mobilizing and burning fat). Cold therapy also supports converting energy stored as white adipose tissue into brown adipose tissue, supporting improved metabolism regulation and adding mitochondria (little powerhouses utilizing energy) into those cells. Heat therapy helps promote healing by increasing blood flow to injured areas, which brings essential nutrients and oxygen that stimulate the regeneration of new tissue through heat-shock protein production. In addition, it can help with muscle tension and stiffness and increase flexibility in tendons and ligaments. Ultimately, cold and heat therapy used together are extremely beneficial for aiding in the healing process. However, extensive mental benefits also exist by way of dopamine and norepinephrine release, influencing mood, attention and vigilance in the body. The prescription for longevity and healthspan is practising 11 minutes per week of cold therapy and 57 minutes per week of heat therapy.
“Our experiences leave you with elevated energy levels, greater vitality and a deeper alignment with self, others and nature, while touching on benefits extending lifespan and healthspan.”
Q: Can you talk about the term “primal therapy” and what that means?
A: Primal therapies are low-cost wellness interventions bringing us closer to our ancestral way of practising and experiencing wellness. These practices are rooted in physical, neurological and spiritual optimization, extending healthspan overall. Primal therapies include such practices as viewing low-horizon light to support circadian rhythm and clock-gene regulation, optic flow for visualization-system support, breathwork for managing stress, grounding techniques while in nature for stimulating alkalinity in our bodies, cold and hot therapies, including cold showers, plunge pools, cold water in nature paired with saunas for contrast-therapy benefits. These practices are paired with human connection exercises involving functional-movement-based patterns designed to be experienced in nature for optimal wellness impact.
Q: What type of classes, workshops, retreats and community experience events do you offer/specialize in?
A: Unbounded Well is an experience lifestyle brand that offers education, classes, workshops, retreat weekends and custom-designed experiences and spaces, each rooted in the primal therapies touched on above. Our classes offer an opportunity to connect with yourself, your community and your surrounding natural environment while practising breathwork, cold therapy, hot therapy, gratitude, and experiencing living differently. Our experiences leave you with elevated energy levels, greater vitality and a deeper alignment with self, others and nature, while touching on benefits extending lifespan and healthspan.
Q: What are some of the transformations you’ve witnessed?
A: Most of Unbounded Well’s community tries one of our classes, sessions or experiences out of curiosity, peer influence or because their health practitioner has recommended primal therapies like breathwork, or cold exposure. They continue practising because of the commitment they make to themselves, the love found in the community and for what they have found inside themselves once they realize there is so much more than cold water, breathing and nature built into the experience.There is a palpable shift felt and experienced in one’s nervous system, altering the state of well-being just enough to inspire a continued practice. Our hundreds of testimonials of transformation range from “I have never felt this connected to my body or this impacted and shifted during one single intervention before” to “I never thought I was going to feel joy again and be able to relieve myself from painkillers and medication until finding this practice” to “I have found love for myself again through this practice” to “I have been able to stay sober thanks to these experiences.” All meaningful, all profound, and all very real and consistent.
Q: Why do you believe that cold/heat therapy is becoming more and more of a trend?
A: I think the trend has a lot to do with the shift of wellness being a focus in 2022/2023 and the level of research finally coming out with peer-reviewed studies being published about the benefits of cold and hot therapies impacting longevity and healthspan, including some sought-after benefits without the same level of time or energy associated with similar results. This is called “minimum effective dose.”
Q: Who could benefit greatly from these therapies?
A: In short, everyone can benefit greatly from these therapies as long as they are deemed safe to do so for each person practising, with no contraindications present. (Even so, placing your hands, feet and/or face in cold water is a great start).
Q: Who are these therapies not suited for?
A: Great question! Contraindications include high/low blood pressure, recent surgeries, chronic illness, pregnancy, history of fainting, any open sores or wounds, hypersensitivity to cold, such as Raynaud’s disease, cold urticaria, cryoglobulinemia, and paroxysmal cold hemoglobinuria. Children under the age of 16 should be cleared by their family doctor and be supervised by parents or guardians. When in doubt, consult with your health-care practitioner.
Q: Are there any cool facts you can share about cold and heat therapy?
A: Cool facts – there are so many. Here are a few! One is our hands and feet, as well as the upper half of our face, are very efficient at heating and cooling the body, as the skin in these areas shunts the blood from arteries to veins rather quickly. Blood moves through these areas quite fast, creating the opportunity to cool the body via cooling the blood quickly as it circulates. The level of vasoconstriction in these parts of the body is more “painful” when experienced compared to the rest of the body.
Water intake is something to be very mindful of when practising cold and heat therapy, as your blood sugar levels are impacted and insulin can be released even if you have had no food intake, just simply due to the amount of sweat and the change in blood-level plasma influencing the blood-sugar-to-plasma ratio. The protocol is 10 ounces of water before, during and after your sauna.Throwing electrolytes in there would help hydration, as well!
Having a coffee pre cold-therapy session (about 20 minutes prior) will help with the release of dopamine inside the blood and body. We like to stack benefits by having your coffee black and on a fasted stomach, then starting your day optimized with your cold therapy session.
Q: What are some of the biggest health tips you can share?
A: When practising cold therapy (11 minutes per week) and heat therapy (57 minutes per week), you are not only extending your lifespan by 20 years, you are also extending your healthspan within your lifespan. Practising can look like 3 to 5 days per week of these minutes broken up into many sessions or having all the sessions built into one experience and cycling contrast therapy.
Q: What is your definition of success?
A: Success looks like sharing this education, these tools and protocols, with as many people as possible so they can experience the benefits of better health, vitality and clarity. Ultimately, success is helping people to feel good in their body and live a full life with more energy, joy and peace. By utilizing simple techniques such as cold therapy and heat therapy, we can improve our health and overall well-being.