You don’t need to travel to New York or Los Angeles to experience the whole body cryotherapy treatments making fans out of movie stars and professional athletes.
NorCal Cryotherapy in Town Center opened Jan. 4. Owner and El Dorado Hills resident Sharon Thompson raves about the ice therapy treatment that, while just being introduced in America, has been popular in Europe and Asia for decades. During a recent visit she explained how regular cryotherapy treatments could benefit just about anyone.
Whole body cryotherapy exposes the largest organ in the body, the skin, to subzero temperatures to activate the central nervous system. At NorCal Cryotherapy clients stand in a chamber that reaches from the neck down for two to three minutes. A machine converts liquid nitrogen into gas, which is pumped into the cryosauna chamber. Skin temperature, but not the core body temperature, drops 30 degrees or more, which causes an endorphin release much like massage or vigorous exercise does. The increased blood circulation also causes a fresh supply of oxygenated, nutrient-rich blood to rush in, decreasing inflammation while also stimulating cellular regeneration.
Benefits can be felt for 48 to 72 hours, the minimum amount of time Thompson said most people should wait between treatments.
“It depends on what they’re here for,” she said. “If someone is in chronic pain, you’ll want to sandwich several sessions upfront and then go into maintenance. Avid athletes come every three to four days.”
Thompson has seen clients as young as 13 years old with parent permission. They are usually year-round, competitive athletes.
“It helps with tears and muscle soreness and it’s a really good detox,” she said.
Cryosaunas were recently featured on the Dr. Oz show as a natural healer that really works. Sports teams are increasingly turning to cryotherapy in place of the old-fashioned ice bath.
“It’s a dry cold, not wet, which makes all the difference,” Thompson said. “Plus an ice bath can take up to 20 minutes.”
Thompson knows about this firsthand. While 30 weeks pregnant with her third son, Thompson, an avid runner, lost part of her right foot when a jet ski trailer fell on it. She had to give up running but turned to cycling and eventually opened her other business, fit RIDE Studio in the Business Park.
When Thompson continued to suffer from foot pain, her surgeon recommended foot ice baths, but Thompson said it was hard to do with kids at home. “There’s got to be something better,” she remembered. “Then my doctor told me about cryotherapy and said that if I ever found a place that offers it, I should try it.”
While with her husband Chris on one of his business trips in L.A. Thompson did try it.
“Cryotherapy offers a mass release of inflammation,” she said. “There are so many healing qualities. I felt relief I’d never felt before.
“I believe in it,” she continued. “I personally need both of my businesses now.”
“A two- to three-minute session in a cryosauna serves as a valuable tool for the daily management of a multitude of ailments including chronic pain, inflammation, energy and stress related conditions, with the added boost of a caloric burn (400 to 800 per session) for weight loss, the elimination of toxins to reduce cellulite and the production of collagen,” it states in the company’s literature.
“We tailor each session to each person,” Thompson said. “Session time and temperature can be adjusted.”
First Thompson takes a client’s blood pressure. Then the client changes into minimal clothing and removes any jewelry — no metal in the chamber. A robe is offered for warmth and privacy until a client stands in the cryosauna. The skin temperature is taken for before/after results. Slippers and mittens are provided during the treatment to protect the body’s extremities.
“Any time you want to get out of the cryosauna you can,” Thompson said. “I’m standing here communicating with you the whole time.”
During my treatment, Thompson was helpful, assuring and had me move one-quarter turn every 30 seconds, with the last chunk of time focused on a bum shoulder. Before I went in my skin temperature was 93 degrees; after two minutes and 30 seconds, it was 53 degrees. The chamber was a brisk -220 degrees but Thompson is right: dry cold is a lot different than wet.
Last, Thompson has clients cycle or handcrank a stationary bike during a three- to four-minute recovery period while she observes.
For the rest of that day I felt like I’d had a massage; I slept better than usual that night and the next day the shoulder pain I’d grown used to wasn’t there first thing in the morning.
Goals and more info
Thompson said this year she’d like to see more people learn about cryotherapy.
“I’m hoping to educate people that it really is a wonderful, natural process,” she said. “It affects the whole body.”
First time customers pay $25 for a session. Single visits are $40, still far less expensive than in major cities, Thompson said. Paying with a health savings account card is accepted.
Located at 4364 Town Center Drive, Suite 108, in El Dorado Hills, NorCal Cryotherapy is open seven days. Walk-ins or appointments available. For more information visit norcal-cryotherapy.com or call (302) 307-CRYO.