Healing Pain at 250 Below with Rick Reilly

Aqib Talib in Cryotherapy Sauna
Aqib Talib in Cryotherapy Sauna

Imagine exposing your body to extreme temperatures – over 200 degrees below zero – to feel BETTER! That’s exactly the premise behind Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC).

We recently shot an ESPN feature story with Rick Reilly and some Broncos football players to find out exactly how it works.

Apparently it's all about fooling your brain that you're freezing to death.

So in order to pull off this big trick, cryotherapy clients strip down to their underwear, put on some socks and gloves, and get into this chamber (they call it a cryosauna) that leaves only their head exposed.

Then a technician presses a few buttons that pumps liquid nitrogen into the chamber, exposing their bodies to air that is 200+ degrees below zero. This reduces their skin surface temperature to around 30 degrees Fahrenheit, causing the body to go into some kind of survival mode, shunting blood from the extremities and sending it to the core.  (Somehow this all happens without hurting your skin, because liquid nitrogen is so dry.)

Advocates of WBC claim that the blood is then enriched with oxygen, enzymes and nutrients, which gets delivered back to the extremities upon re-warming. They say the enriched blood "promotes internal organ regeneration, expels toxins from subcutaneous layers, initiates cell renewal process, triggers replacement of damaged cells and eliminates dead cells from peripheral tissues. Or simply put, it is rejuvenation of the body at the cellular level.” [1]

Football players like Aqib Talib, Brandon Marshall and Malik Jackson say it just makes them feel better. Elite athletes have been taking ice baths for years, but apparently this is quicker and more effective.

Luckily it was a very cold and snowy day, which made for a great open with Rick Reilly setting the scene in classic comedic fashion.

Then we camped out at Cherry Creek Spine in Denver as player after player came in for quick treatments in their cryosauna. Rick interviewed them during and after treatment, and then went in himself. Things got even funnier with Brandon Marshall at the controls!

We shot this with our Sony F55 and F5 cameras equipped with Sony L-series zoom lenses. Interviews with the doctors were shot with our Canon Cinema Primes. The host wraps with Reilly in the snow were shot with our Sony PMW400 camera with ENG glass.

Big Pictures crew were Tom Miller, Scott Tuke and Trevor Nordeen.

This first aired on ESPN before the Monday Night Football game on December 28th, and will likely re-air in the days to come with the Broncos in the playoffs.

You can also check it out here: Denver's big freeze: Broncos use Cryotherapy

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Written by Tom Miller, Copyright © 2016 Big Pictures Media, Inc.