A Cool Sensation
Cryosaunas help soothe and heal student-athletes' muscles
Sports fans know about icing a kicker, freezing a hitter and “The Fridge.” Now the Tigers are upping their game by lowering the temperature.
Teaming up with Impact Cryotherapy, MU has installed a pair of “cryosaunas” at the Mizzou Athletics Training Complex. Each unit bathes a single athlete at a time in nitrogen vapor that descends to as low as -184°F.
The cold-therapy modality oxygenates the blood when it is drawn to the body’s core, then pushes that blood to the extremities to reduce inflammation, relieve pain and assist in muscle recovery. The nitrogen, which is delivered to campus in 50-gallon tanks, is emitted from nozzles inside the chamber’s back wall. Each therapy session lasts three minutes, and the athlete inside must wear gloves and footwear and rotate his or her body every five seconds for even distribution.
The technology is used by several professional sports teams — including the Chicago Cubs and Kansas City Royals, winners of the past two World Series — and a handful of NCAA programs. Athletes report feeling rejuvenated and invigorated, and some say they sleep better after having received treatment.
“We have 300 student-athletes and one cold tub,” says Rex Sharp, associate athletic director for sports medicine, of the lower-tech version of cold therapy. “Instead of knocking out a wall and putting in another tub, now we have these.” Each unit costs about $60,000. “During a demonstration in spring 2015, we must have brought 115 people through [the cryosauna] in one day,” says Sharp. “There are so many demands on our student-athletes’ time. It’s all about efficiency.”