Finding Relief with Cryotherapy
● By Kerri Regan
By Kerri Regan
Photos by Sarah Marie Spectrum
Chronic pain? Trouble sleeping? Stressed to the max?
Maybe you need to chill.
A growing number of North State residents are using cryotherapy to find relief from a variety of health issues, from arthritis and multiple sclerosis to anxiety and much more.
People are hungry for holistic, natural alternatives to pain relief, says Kevin Kramer, chief executive officer and co-owner of US Cryotherapy, which has an office in Redding. Its walk-in cold chamber uses refrigerated air instead of liquid nitrogen to expose clients to subzero temperatures for about three minutes. “Cold shock” drops the skin temperature, which releases endorphins and an anti-inflammatory protein, activating the body’s self-repair systems and blocking pain reception signals.
For whole-body therapy, clients are outfitted with protective wear to cover their hands, feet, ears, mouth and nose. They walk into the chamber and the cold drops their skin temperature by 30 to 45 degrees. The oxygenated air is dry, so it’s not painful like an ice bath, says Christi Osborne, co-owner of the Redding facility.
The chamber affects the entire body, and it’s used in tandem with localized cold-air treatment that’s “more like an ice bath on steroids,” Christi explains. “It’s far less painful than an ice bath, though, because it’s totally dry air.”
Chelsea Bailey of Redding had broken her ankle, then rolled it shortly after it had healed, which brought back the swelling. She decided to try out cryotherapy. “I instantly found relief,” Bailey says. “It was remarkable. I was able to get back to my routine quickly. I was so impressed, I went back and did the full body cryo and it was invigorating.”
Davis-based US Cryotherapy treats more than 15,000 people per month at its 20 facilities around the country, Kramer says. The Redding center was opened in early 2017 by Christi’s husband, Dr. Jon Osborne, and Dr. Rob Hamilton. Jon had injured his knee while carrying his son on his back at Bunny Flat, and he decided to check out US Cryotherapy in Roseville. He did a cryotherapy session and had a localized treatment on his knee, and was so impressed with the results that he invested in a North State office. “We really believe in it,” Christi says.
Children 11 and up can use the whole-body chamber. “My daughter begs to go in with me,” Christi says. “With kids, you don’t get a lot of chronic pain, but more acute injuries – sprained ankles, or injured knees from football, or shoulder injuries from basketball.”
Cryotherapy can also be a teambuilding activity. “We had the entire Foothill High School cross country team in the other day to do a team session before they went to their big state competition,” Christi says. “We love having teams – it’s a two-person cryotherapy chamber, so you can talk to each other while you’re in there. You’re all experiencing this together, so it’s very bonding for a team.”
Whole body cryotherapy is not recognized by the Food and Drug Administration as regulated or approved for any specific medical conditions, though it is used widely in Europe. However, many clients report experiencing more mobility and a feeling similar to the “runner’s high” after treatment. US Cryotherapy recently started a yoga class so people can enjoy that extra flexibility when they come out of the chamber. Cryofacials can help produce collagen and reduce wrinkles. “It’s ideal for someone who just has 15 minutes and they want to do something good for their skin but don’t have half a day to go to the spa,” Christi says.
It’s natural to be nervous the first time – and there’s always a staff member who’s willing to go into the chamber with reticent clients. “I was terrified the first time I went in,” Christi says. “My pool has to be 90 degrees before I get in. But it’s a completely dry air, and because there’s no moisture, it doesn’t change your core temperature at all. We’re only lowering the temperature of the surface of the skin. The minute you exit the chamber, you’re warm again.”
Repeat customers include best friends who are 80 and 85 – one a retired nurse, one a retired fitness instructor – who went into the chamber together. The woman with sciatica was able to go for a five-mile walk the next day, and the one with knee problems was able to get back into her garden again.
“Cryotherapy isn’t going to fix something that needs surgery, but it’s fantastic for post-surgical recovery,” Christi says. “It’s not a substitute for traditional medicine, but it’s an adjunct service that helps people who are managing chronic pain or autoimmune conditions. It’s encouraging to see the improved quality of life for people who live with disease. Every day, I have people telling me, ‘I haven’t felt this good in my entire life.’”
US Cryotherapy • 1619 Hilltop Drive, Suite A, Redding
(530) 691-4488 • Find them on Facebook