BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - LeBron James swears by it. Floyd Mayweather did it before the "fight of the century." Cryotherapy is now available in Louisiana, and it's not just athletes who are eager to endure the subzero temperatures.
Michelle Potter usually hates the cold, but stepping into a cryochamber is now part of her routine.
"I'm here three days a week, and so cryo is a must," she said. "I have to do cryo, because it gives me the energy and the life that I need when I leave from here to get things accomplished."
It doesn't take long for Potter to begin to shiver as liquid nitrogen vapor fills the chamber at a temperature of -270 degrees Fahrenheit. For 15 years, she's suffered from chronic pain and fatigue. Cryotherapy tricks her body into survival mode.
"The body vasoconstricts, meaning everything is tightening up, and the blood is actually moving to the core of the body," said Dr. Kelly Ryder, a sports chiropractor with offices in Baton Rouge and Dallas.
Ryder said the blood ends up with more oxygen and nutrients, which then flush back through the rest of the body when it returns to a normal temperature.
The treatments only last three minutes, and the cold only penetrates skin tissue by a half-millimeter.
"It's not that traditional 20-minute ice bath anymore," Ryder explained. "We've taken science and we've been able to make some miraculous improvements on how we're able to heal and regenerate these athletes."
He said the treatments can be a healthier alternative to pain medication, but regular sessions are usually needed. Potter has done 15 so far.
"As soon as I get out I mean, I'm just lots of energy, mood change, I just feel absolutely great," she said.
Cryotherapy is generally safe for healthy people. FDA approval is not required since it's not considered a medical procedure. Patients sign a waiver and fill out a quick questionnaire. Poor circulation, hypertension, or increased risk for heart disease can be reasons to stay away. As always, patients should consult their doctor before beginning any new type of therapy.
The cost is $75 per treatment, with cheaper rates available for frequent users.
The Ryder Clinic is located at 6555 Perkins Rd. across from Pennington Biomedical Research Center. Call 225-766-9788 or click here for more information.