You step into a cylindrical machine in the middle of a dark room and the door closes behind you. At the push of a button, the chamber fills with mist and you feel a chill trickle across the surface of your skin. After a few minutes, you leave the chamber feeling younger, refreshed and renewed. Does this sound like a science fiction novel or the latest “Star Trek” episode? Well, it is not fiction! It is the newest method of pain reduction and physical rehabilitation called “cryotherapy.”
Cryotherapy is clinically described as the “remedial application of cold temperatures to the body for therapy of physical and mental illness.” The process has been used in the past to treat targeted areas of the body. The hypothermic application is intended to reduce musculoskeletal pain and inflammation while stimulating the nervous system through the skin. Researchers and developers have created a technique that impacts the whole body using a cylindrical, state-of-the-art cooling chamber called a cryosauna, and dry, gasiform nitrogen.
Whole-body cryotherapy started in Japan in 1978 when Dr. Toshiba Yamaguchi started researching the effects of subzero temperatures on arthritic patients. Since then, the experience has traveled across Europe and undergone countless tests and research studies before landing in the U.S. Now, there are facilities across the country that provide cryotherapy for athletes and those who may be recovering from a physical injury.
“There have been numerous studies throughout the past few decades that validate the effectiveness and benefits of cryotherapy. During your treatment, your body will activate several mechanisms that promote significant, long-term benefits, both medical and aesthetic,” said Leslie Cook, the office manager at Cryotherapy of Texas. The therapy is unique because it has the ability to stimulate the body’s natural healing abilities.
Today, you can experience cryotherapy for yourself, right here in Frisco. Companies like Elite Cryo, Below Zero Cryo and Cryotherapy of Texas each provide some of the best techniques in the industry for anyone interested in healing their body with cryotherapy. The treatment is ideal for recovering athletes, those with pain from arthritis and anyone who is looking to boost their overall energy level and immune system.
So, what can you expect from a typical appointment? Before the process begins, visitors are generally required to fill out a waiver and provide a short medical history to eliminate any health concerns. This way, visitors know without a doubt that their experience will be safe and beneficial. At a typical appointment, visitors have their blood pressure taken as another precaution to ensure their safety. After this process is completed, the visitor is provided with gloves, socks and slippers so their extremities are protected from the cold elements. With the push of a few buttons on the control pad, the capsule fills with nitrogen gas. Your body will be exposed to temperatures less than zero degrees! At first, the blast of cold jolts the senses, and the first minute is the most difficult to get through without focusing entirely on how cold the body has gotten. Lisa Clark, who owns Elite Cryo with her brother, Jeff, said that inside that chamber is “the coldest place on earth,” and she is right. With a technician talking to you through the whole process, the few minutes are up before you know it. Some people tend to be hesitant of the nitrogen gas used during the procedure, but there is no reason to be nervous. Nitrogen is non-toxic and naturally makes up 78 percent of the air we already breathe. That being said, breathing too much of this gas could result in fainting, so the cryosauna is designed with space for a patient’s head to remain above the chamber throughout treatment. After the procedure is over, a rush of warmth fills the room and the limbs start to tingle. Reawakened and refreshed with senses revitalized, the visitor is free to carry on with the rest of his or her day.
When the body undergoes extreme chill, like it does in the cryosauna, blood vessels constrict to keep the blood close to the central core, the heart, lungs and other essential organs. When the cold temperature is removed, the blood vessels re-expand and oxygen-rich blood rushes to all parts of the body. This creates an invigorating effect that has become addictive to countless clients worldwide. Being exposed to extreme cold causes the body to turn up its metabolic rate in order to produce heat. Because of cryotherapy’s ability to accelerate recovery and reduce inflammation, it is mostly used among professional athletes and marathon runners. However, its positive effects regarding anti-aging collagen stimulation and cellulite reduction are also being researched.
Even if you do not consider yourself an athlete, you can still reap the benefits of cryotherapy. Mr. Clark said, “Athletes are why the process got popular, since it was a replacement to the traditional ice bath, but your everyday mom and dad can use it to relieve aches and pains. We even had someone with a skin condition come in for the number of benefits.” Another remarkable fact about cryotherapy is that patients burn calories during every session! Justin Miller, the owner of Below Zero Cryo, added, “Cryotherapy helps with aches and pains, inflammation, healing from an injury and tight skin. It can help you get better sleep and it boosts your immune system.”
Whether you have heard of cryotherapy before or not, chances are you know someone who has used it. CJ Wilson, a former pitcher for the Texas Rangers, and athletes from teams like the Knicks, the Dallas Mavericks and the Dallas Stars, all use the technology for postgame recovery. In fact, the Mavericks credited cryotherapy as one of the main reasons for their success in the 2011 playoffs. Actress Demi Moore has used cryotherapy for anti-aging, and Glenn Beck praises its therapeutic effect on his chronic back pain. However, you do not have to be rich and famous to reap benefits from cryotherapy. Mr. Miller said, “This treatment is not just for athletes. Cryotherapy can help anybody!”
As with anything, there are a few risk factors to keep in mind before you try cryotherapy. If you are pregnant, have heart disease or high blood pressure, it is best to check with a doctor before using this method of rehabilitation. You cannot be physically sick and must be fever-free for at least 48 hours before you can enter the cryosauna. If you are worried about frostbite, do not be. There are several measures taken to make sure you are completely protected while in the chamber.
One current Elite Cryo client, Ian Ounanian, reported major success with cryotherapy. He said, “After the first session, I knew this was the ideal therapy for me. I noticed I was recovering faster from intense training sessions. I felt a reduction in the inflammation and tightness in my joints within a few treatments. I recommend this therapy for anyone who has led or leads an active lifestyle.” The therapy may even reduce medication needs because your body releases its own natural nutrients during treatment.
Pricing will vary at the Frisco facilities that offer this treatment. Many companies offer memberships or packages for clients who plan to reap the benefits of cryotherapy regularly. If you think you or someone you know could benefit from cryotherapy, check the companies’ websites to learn more! Escape the sweltering heat of the Texas summer and try a few minutes in the Arctic cold of the cryosauna. Your body will thank you!