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Fernando Vega and the CryoXL cryosauna.
Sarasota Thursday, Apr. 20, 2017 3 months ago

Cryotherapy a cool new option for pain relief

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Prose and Kohn: Ryan Kohn.
by: Ryan Kohn Sports Reporter

The best part of my job is its spontaneity. Stories can come from anywhere at any time, even, as I recently found out, from a seemingly small detail in a different story.

Two weeks ago, I wrote a column detailing Cardinal Mooney senior wrestler Dillon O’Neill’s path to the state championships (He ended up winning his weight class). As part of that piece, I mentioned O’Neill’s frequent visits to Hydr8, at 1539 2nd St., where he received cryotherapy treatment for a shoulder injury. O’Neill said it helped him deal with inflammation and swelling.

After that story ran, Hydr8’s CEO, Fernando Vega, MHCM, contacted me and offered to let me try cryotherapy.

I am not one to turn down such an offer.

Vega told me the results of cryotherapy are akin to a 20-minute ice bath, only in three minutes. Hydr8 purchased its cryosauna from Impact Cryotherapy in Atlanta after Vega heard of numerous athletes, including LeBron James, Cristiano Ronaldo and Floyd Mayweather, using the machines daily in their homes. The cryosaunas engulf users in liquid nitrogen vapors from neck to toe. All users enter the machine wearing gloves, socks and protective shoes. Male users are required to wear underwear.

Since purchasing the cryosauna, Vega said NFL players have come to Hydr8 to use it, though Vega cited confidentiality rules and couldn’t give me specific names. He also told me the machine could help patients with migraine headaches, fibromyalgia, eczema and psoriasis, and arthritis, plus improve users’ energy, mood and melatonin levels, among other things. One patient in particular, who came in with arthritis pain, Vega will never forget.

“She came out of the machine and started crying,” Vega said. “I thought something was wrong. She told me she could not feel any pain.”

She then hugged Vega.

Ryan Kohn inside the CryoXL cryosauna. Courtesy photo.
Ryan Kohn inside the CryoXL cryosauna. Courtesy photo.

My turn in the machine had come. There are three levels to the cryosauna for beginners: minus 90 degrees (Celsius), minus 110 degrees, and minus 135 degrees. Veterans of the machine, like O’Neill, go colder. Vega said prior to my treatment that by the time it reached minus 135 degrees, or the “get me out of here” level, it would be time to exit.

In my experience, he was mostly right.

Cryotherapy is a cold unlike any I had previously felt, and I don’t mean just in temperature. It was a dry cold. There’s not the stinging wind accompanying the temperature drop like there is when you step out of a Missouri apartment in early February. In fact, nothing stings. You feel the cold for while, and then you don’t. You know it’s there, because your body won’t stop shaking and remembering to push the “breathe” button in your brain takes effort. I guess that is to be expected in those temperatures, though.

Vega was talking to me during my session, but honestly, I could not tell you what he said. Every 15 seconds, you rotate to ensure frostbite doesn’t get its grip on any ligaments. By the time three minutes had passed, I was more than ready to throw on Hydr8’s complimentary robe.

Stepping out of the machine after three minutes was not unlike drinking a glass of red wine and feeling it slip down your throat and into your stomach, leaving a trail of warmth. The key difference is leaving the cryosauna brought warmth to my entire body, not just one area, though it didn’t convince me dancing to John Mayer’s new album was a good idea, so wine gets the edge there.

After my session, I felt better than expected. I was alert, and that alertness turned into productivity. I slept great that night, and my feelings from the day before remained in effect. I did not have any injuries, so I cannot speak to the treatment in that regard.

Cryotherapy was certainly a new experience, one that I’m glad I did. As it spreads through the sports world and other people get into it (TV personality Chelsea Handler used it on her Netflix show, “Chelsea”), I imagine you will hear about it more and more. Vega told me he’s in the business of helping people, not making money, and I believe him. An introductory session is $25, with different plans available after that.

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