Cryotherapy experts baffled by Antonio Brown’s frostbitten feet
The picture circulating on social media of Antonio Brown’s feet is reportedly the result of a cryotherapy session gone very wrong.
From heel to toe, the bottoms of Brown’s feet are one big blister, with yellowish dying skin giving way to a shade of raw pink.
Local cryotherapy experts wonder how Brown or those who administered the procedure didn’t know to properly protect his feet.
Brown, an All-Pro wide receiver who played nine seasons with the Steelers before being traded to the Oakland Raiders in March, is no stranger to the cryotherapy. The procedure involves stepping into a cylindrical, metal tube chilled to temperatures of minus 270 degrees by nitrogen vapor.
Nick Huston, co-owner of Cranberry Cryotherapy, says anyone who steps into a cryotherapy chamber at his facility is required to wear warm dry socks, protective boots and gloves on their hands.
“Obviously (Brown) wasn’t wearing the protection,” Huston said. “How he went into the chamber without it, I honestly have no idea. Here it’s checked and double-checked with each client before they get into the machine.”
— Jeff Lorenz (@LorenzSportsMed) August 3, 2019
Dr. Matt Burnett, a certified chiropractic sports medicine specialist with Legacy Medical Centers in Peters, said that several Steelers players come to the facility for postgame cryotherapy. He said he has worked with players on all 32 NFL teams including Brown.
“What’s cool about cryo is that when you do it, it’s a rapid constriction of the blood vessels and so what it does is take the blood away from the periphery,” Burnett said. “The adrenal glands squeeze because the body thinks it’s going into shock, and you get a natural endorphin rush. And so it’s a massive anti-inflammatory.”
Burnett says that anyone who undergoes cryotherapy has to be careful and that in all likelihood, Brown was not.
“He would have had to have known that something was going on because your feet start to burn and then they tingle and they turn bright red,” Burnett said of Brown. “He went far past burning, tingling and numbness to have these kinds of results. But it just goes to show that the provider who stuck him in there didn’t know what they were doing.”
Brown hasn’t participated in a full practice during training camp.
“The depth and the extent of the damage will determine his recovery time. If it’s a superficial frostbite, you’re talking one to three weeks and he’s back up and running,” said Burnett. “But if it’s a severe frostbite, and it’s killed a portion of the nerve, he could potentially have neuropathy in his feet where he doesn’t feel his feet as a result of this.”
Burnett said he believes the mishap could plague the remainder of Brown’s NFL career.
“If you’re an NFL receiver, and these guys are all looking for that 1% advantage, not being able to know where your feet are at all times is definitely going to work against you.”
Paul Guggenheimer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-226-7706 or [email protected].