In their quest for better performance, sports teams are increasingly freezing their players.
The Denver Nuggets basketball team just announced a deal with CryoUSA, which will provide whole-body cryotherapy for members of the team. That means players will be able to step into a chamber chilled to at least minus 166 degrees Fahrenheit for a two-to-three minute zap of frigid air as part of their physical therapy — even though the practice isn’t approved as a treatment by the Food and Drug Administration.
The Kansas City Royals, last year’s World Series champs, are doing the same; they just struck a deal with Impact Cryotherapy System of Atlanta. Other teams have tried it as well, including the Dallas Mavericks during their 2011 NBA championship run.
In medicine, cryotherapy has long been used on parts of the body, from freezing off warts to treating cancer.
But immersing the entire body in temperatures as low as minus 300 degrees Fahrenheit is now touted as a way to heal tissue tissue damage, speed up recovery from injuries, and even help lose weight.
The practice is nearly entirely unregulated.
Right now, in many states, anyone with access to liquid nitrogen and a big enough container can offer cryotherapy. No medical or other certification is required.
Following the death last fall of a woman whose body was found frozen in a cryotherapy tank, a few states have moved to step up oversight. Nevada has issued guidelines that recommend people with certain health conditions don’t use the technology.