What Is

A Japanese rheumatologist is credited with first using short-duration freezing sessions on patients’ skin for pain management in the late 1970s. Physicians in Europe then developed whole body cryotherapy to treat inflammatory injuries and disorders, according to manufacturers’ and distributors’ websites.

With cryotherapy, an individual steps into a chamber, wearing only gloves, socks and slippers to protect their extremities. The head and neck remain at room temperature above the chamber.

As the chamber fills with nitrogen gas the temperature typically drops to an average of negative 270 to 280 degrees Fahrenheit, rapidly lowering skin temperature to approximately 32 degrees.

The extreme cold tricks the brain into believing the body is in danger of freezing and that it cannot keep the arms and legs warm. The brain signals the body to push all the blood to the core to keep the vital organs and core temperature warm enough to survive, says Mark Murdock, co-owner of CryoUSA, the national distributor for two cryosauna systems. Blood remains close to the body’s core, filtering through the cardiovascular system much faster than normal throughout a cryotherapy session, which can last up to three minutes.

Once out of the cold, the brain detects the return to room temperature. The purified, enriched oxygenated blood rapidly circulates throughout the body, says Hope Adams, a licensed massage therapist at CryoUSA.

Hall says TCU still uses other treatments, including ice baths. The cryosauna is quick and dry; ice baths take longer. In both cases, he said the extreme temperature drops aren’t pleasant. “It gets downright cold,” he says, noting that many TCU athletes only stay in the cryochamber 45 seconds to 2 1/2 minutes. “Some people tolerate the cold better than others.”

Pro triathlete Lauren Barnett of Dallas says she noticed a difference almost immediately after her treatment.

“I was able to recover from intense workouts more quickly and that meant I could hit my next hard session earlier,” says Barnett, 29, who won her pro debut Ironman 70.3 New Orleans title in April. “I could bump up my training intensity, which has helped a lot.”

Like many area venues, CryoUSA charges $75 for a single three-minute session, with discounts for packages. Local athletes, including pro runner Dawn Grunnagle, say they use cryosauna sessions after hard workouts, multiple times a week.

“It is an added cost I wouldn’t normally have,” says Henstorf, who used the treatments multiple times weekly in the three months leading up to her race. “If I wasn’t injured, I probably wouldn’t do it as frequently. Instead, I didn’t get as many massages.”

What To

During Your Session

Before your first Cryotherapy session, you will fill out your physical readiness form. Our technician will examine this form and check your blood pressure to insure that you are a good candidate for this treatment. Upon approval, our technician will explain the procedure and answer any questions or concerns that you may have.

Once you are ready, our technician will cool the Cryosauna and exit the room. You will then remove all clothing and jewelry below the neck down (Men must wear briefs). We will provide you with gloves, socks and slippers to wear during your session to protect your hands and feet. You will then enter the cryosauna and shut the door. You will be completely enclosed and hidden from view. The technician will promptly re-enter the room and elevate you until your head is above the rim of the chamber. The chamber is then filled with nitrogen gas and your skin is briefly exposed to subzero temperatures (-150° to -300°F) for three minutes. This sudden drop to arctic temperatures is a surprisingly tolerable experience, but has a dramatic effect on your brain and body. As the cold receptors beneath the skin sense this sudden, extreme cold, your body activates powerful survival mechanisms that cause the blood vessels near the skin to quickly constrict (vasoconstriction) to send blood to the major organs to maintain your core body temperature. During this process, your blood is highly oxygenated, filtered and filled with nutrients. When you step out of the cryosauna just three minutes later, the blood vessels quickly dilate (vasodilation) and blood rushes back to the skin. Blood circulation is naturally stimulated and oxygenated blood is delivered to damaged tissue.

After Your First Few Cryo Sessions

Immediately following their first session, most individuals experience a rush of endorphins and a glowing sense of well-being. Throughout that day, as more blood circulates to areas of inflammation, some experience an achiness in those areas as well as fatigue. This will subside following subsequent treatments. Some may experience a slight headache as toxins are eliminated from the body. Increased hunger due to a higher metabolism is also common.

Cryo Chamber Dress Code

Robe (removed during treatment)
Bottoms (underwear)
Sports bra (women optional)
We provide all of the above except for undergarments