SACRAMENTO, Calif. — As the first team to have to go through a back-to-back-to-back in this lockout-shortened 66-game season, the Los Angeles Lakers partook in a unique team activity Monday to guard against the fatigue that the schedule has in store for them.
The Lakers visited a Sacramento-area cryotherapy clinic to experience intense cold therapy, a procedure that is growing in popularity in the world of professional sports and replacing the traditional ice bath.
Lakers players were split into groups of four and placed in a room that was approximately 60 degrees below Fahrenheit for one minute. Once their bodies got used to the cold climate, the players walked into an adjacent room where temperature was approximately 200 degrees below zero, where they were kept for three minutes before being released.
A popular manufacturer of the cold chamber products, MecoTec GmbH, is based out of Germany, the same country where Kobe Bryant traveled to in the offseason to receive an innovative plasma replacement procedure on his right knee. He later traveled back to Germany to receive a similar treatment on his left ankle, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Exposure to extreme cold is meant to decrease pain, swelling and inflammation in athletes’ bodies, but there are not many places to access the therapy in the U.S.
“By the end of those three minutes, you’re begging for that guy to give you the nod like, ‘OK, your time’s up,’ ” said Lakers forward Luke Walton. “I’ve heard about this thing just from researching it with stuff for my back and wanted to do it, so I had volunteered to do it either way. So I was going to go no matter what and they kind of made the whole team go.”
The treatment did not help the results on the court Monday night as the Lakers lost to the Kings 100-91 to fall to 0-2 on the season, but it did have a positive effect on players’ bodies.
“When I woke up (Monday) morning my back was pretty sore and it’s been feeling good lately so I was kind of bummed that I wasn’t going to be able to see if it was really working or not, but my back feels great right now,” Walton said before the game. “It definitely works.”
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.