Inside a rumbling high-tech chamber at the new Cryo Method health and wellness facility in downtown Missoula, the temperature rapidly drops to between -150 and -220 degrees Fahrenheit while music plays on an overhead speaker.
Inside, participants wear a robe, a headband, socks, gloves and a mask to protect their extremities, but the goal is to have the body initiate a “fight or flight” in response to the sudden cold.
Adrenaline is released, causing blood to rush from the periphery of the body to the core in order to warm the vital organs. After stepping out of the machine, the blood quickly returns to the rest of the body.
Like immersing oneself in a cold lake or an ice bath, cryotherapy is meant to improve circulation and combat pain and inflammation in the body.
“Your body is kind of sensing that there’s some danger in it, even though there really isn’t,” explained co-owner Dustin Williams.
He and his wife, Krissy, spent months remodeling the space at 111 W. Broadway and held their grand opening in mid-September.
“Missoula is a market that is ready for something like this and can actually sustain it,” Williams said. “Utilizing our state-of-the-art recovery modalities, we are committed to bringing the community an affordable alternative to traditional pain management and recovery.”
Along with the cryotherapy chamber, they offer compression therapy, an infrared sauna, a red light therapy room and pulse massage guns.
“So it’s all kinds of sports recovery and pain management," Williams said. "It's just kind of a way to enhance your overall wellness."
The TheraLight red light therapy bed looks like a tanning bed.
“Instead of any UV rays, it’s all red light and near-infrared light,” Williams said. “So it’s just kind of utilizing LEDs. It’s utilizing that light spectrum to enhance your cellular production.”
Krissy Williams said people can get many of the benefits of sunlight, but without exposure to harmful UV rays.
“So you don’t get tan but you don’t get any of the cancer risks or anything like that,” she said. “It can treat seasonal affective disorder and anxiety in the winter but it also goes to, like, performance recovery and all that. A lot of people come for the mood benefits."
The infrared sauna uses infrared light to penetrate body tissues in order to promote cellular repair and reduce inflammation.
Because it doesn’t generate as much heat as a traditional sauna, people can stay in longer, Williams said. Users will still fell their body warming.
The increased temperature signals the body to initiate bodily defenses, Williams explained. That means the heart starts pumping faster and participants will feel like they’re getting a moderate exercise.
In the compression therapy room, participants use devices that can engulf an entire limb and then tighten with air pressure.
“It’s really just a way to help increase your circulation and decrease your lactic acid buildup post-effort,” Dustin Williams said. “It’s great for endurance athletes or a post-gym session. But also with compression therapy, this can help people who are dealing with blood-clotting from standing or sitting all day.”
As with any health or wellness program, users should consult their doctor or licensed health professional for advice.
"We're committed to changing the perception of health and wellness," Dustin Williams said. "Making your health and recovery an active priority is one of the most important decisions you'll make each day. Cryo Method was created with the intention to help people enjoy more of what they love to do."
Cryo Method is open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturdays.