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SPA DOCTOR: Icy blast warms my frozen shoulder 

SPA DOCTOR: Icy blast warms my frozen shoulder

A few years ago, I tore the rotator cuff of my right shoulder while doing nothing more strenuous than taking off a jumper.

It was only a minor tear, but afterwards even pulling open a door was painful.

I also discovered that when one bit of the body plays up, the whole system is thrown off kilter and before you know it, you’re coping with aches and pains all over the place.

About 18 months ago I woke up to find I couldn’t turn my head because my neck, on the same side as the shoulder injury, had frozen.

A few years ago, I tore the rotator cuff of my right shoulder while doing nothing more strenuous than taking off a jumper (stock image)

So when I was offered the chance to try an innovative spa treatment that blasts the joints with sub-zero-temperature air, I was more than willing to give it a go.


The elegant and understated Bulgari Hotel, in Knightsbridge.


Cryotherapy – administered by a machine with a hand-held, gun-like device that emits a high-powered jet of freezing air at -30C.

At the Bulgari, the Signature Cryotherapy Sports Massage (60 minutes, £200) is carried out by a trained physiotherapy massage therapist, who asks about my medical history.

Pictured: Bulgari Hotel in Knightsbridge

Pictured: Bulgari Hotel in Knightsbridge

She starts with short pulses, building up to longer ones around my shoulder and neck.

It is like having an icy fingertip poking into you, but I feel a deep and immediate sensation of relief. The idea is that the extra-cold air seeps deep into the tissues, improving circulation and blood flow, easing pain and inflammation and speeding up healing.

Afterwards, my back and shoulder begin to feel warm and glowing, which is blissful.

The treatment is inspired by full-body cryotherapy, which involves standing in a sub-zero sauna for two or three minutes.

Uncomfortable as it sounds, numerous sportsmen and elite athletes swear by it to hasten recovery after training or injury.

Research shows that the targeted version I am sampling has benefits for joint pain – both acute and long-term.

It’s also not uncomfortable at all and the effect is long-lasting… before my cryotherapy I was taking paracetamol four times a day; now I don’t need to.

  • Jonathan Neal was a guest of the Bulgari London. Rooms from £580 per night.