CLEVELAND - A treatment popular with professional athletes like LeBron James is now being used on an Ohio college campus. However, some experts, including the U.S. Food and Drug administration, are skeptical about its supposed benefits.
Kent State University recently installed a $50,000 whole body cryotherapy chamber for its athletes. It is the first school in the Mid-American Conference to utilize the technology. In fact, Ohio State University does not have a chamber yet.
Temperatures in the chamber can reach below 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Each session only lasts about a minute and a half to two minutes.
Roughly 100 Kent State athletes will use the chamber every week after their games.
“We’re trying to keep the student athletes on the field, on the court or in the gym as much as possible and get them back as quickly as possible,” said Kent State associate athletic director Trent Stratton. “This will aid tremendously in the recovery process.”
Advocates say whole body cryotherapy reduces inflation and allows for a faster recovery.
Challen Geraghty, a senior at Kent State who plays on the women’s volleyball team, tried it for the first time and liked it.
“I think it’ll make my muscles so much more relaxed and not sore anymore,” said Geraghty. “I won’t be slow the first day back after a long weekend.”
Cleveland Clinic exercise physiologist Chris Travers isn’t convinced.
“The problem is that there’s not enough evidence-based research to back it up.”
Travers says there are only small whole body cryotherapy studies involving 15-20 athletes that don’t show big changes. He believes it’s the placebo effect.
“Hey, I feel better! It must be working and it must be doing what I say it’s doing,” argues Travers.
In 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration put out a bulletin telling consumers to watch out for misleading claims about whole body cryotherapy. The FDA said it did not have evidence that it effectively treated certain diseases, stress, anxiety or pain.