A hot health trend is lowering the temperature and raising concerns from some in the medical community. It’s called "cryotherapy." People go into a booth, and even pay hundreds of dollars a month to have their body cooled. It's been used by professional athletes in Europe for more than 30 years, and is now growing in popularity in America.
Jason Chen has gone to Glacé Cryotherapy in San Jose twice a week for the past six months.
“I used to run, and then after a block and a half I’d get so tight I’d have to stop and stretch. Now
I can run without a problem,” Chen said.
Before you enter a cryo ‘sauna,’ or chamber, you strip down to your underwear in a changing room and put on boots, gloves, and a robe. Before you step in and take off your robe, the employee will start cooling the chamber.
Once inside with your head exposed, liquid nitrogen is pumped into the chamber and temperatures drop to around 250 degrees below zero. The experience lasts up to three minutes. Treatments costs between $40-$60 at Glacé.
“It’s pretty cold, it's very intense so you just slow your breathing,” Chen said.
Glacé Cryotherapy owner Ryan Weeks claims it reduces inflammation, increases blood flow, improves mood, and even helps in weight loss.
“We literally change people's lives and their outlook on their day in three minutes,” Weeks said.
Many top professional athletes swear by it, including Super Bowl MVP Von Miller and many of the Denver Broncos who ‘cryo'ed’ on their way to a championship.
“I think the most powerful thing…is seeing the results,” Weeks added.
But not everyone is convinced on cryotherapy’s health benefits. Dr. Michael Fredericson is a sports medicine physician at Stanford Hospital, and a former medical director for the U.S. track and field championships.
“The problem is we don't have much research on it, and in fact the research that is out there is not very convincing,” Dr. Fredericson said.
Dr. Fredericson added that most people shouldn’t even jump in an ice bath after a workout because it can neutralize the benefits. He says high performance athletes should only use deep cold therapy for quick recovery in between competitions.
“The muscle soreness you get after a workout is actually good for you,” Dr. Fredericson said. “If you block that response with excessive cold you might not get the soreness, but you're not going to get
the benefits from that workout."
Cryotherapy is not FDA approved, and there is very little oversight. The California Department of Consumer Affairs says it’s not regulated in our state, and board members have no plans to regulate
cryotherapy right now.
Ryan weeks says he welcomes more studies and oversight on the industry.
“I would ask everybody has an open mind and that we actually study this and look at it as an applicable method for treating people in a different way,” Weeks said.
Weeks added that anyone who wants to buy and operate one of the machines, must be trained and certified by the manufacturer.