Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and Sports
Studies conducted on sports-related injuries have shown that the healing process is natural and follows a consistent path irrespective of the type or cause of injury. Primarily, there are three different stages of the healing process, namely, the inflammatory stage, proliferative stage, and the remodeling stage. However, all the three stages share a common component – oxygen – which plays an important role in each of these healing phases.
Coincidentally, the only element used in hyperbaric oxygen therapy is pure oxygen, which is administered in a high-pressure environment. Scientific research and studies have suggested that HBOT can be used as a primary or an adjunct treatment modality for countering sports-related injuries.
Benefits of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Athletes and Sportspersons
What do LeBron James, Tim Tebow, and Michael Phelps have in common apart from being distinguished sports personalities? They, along with many other athletes in the world undergo hyperbaric therapy to treat sports-related injuries apart from improving their overall performance. Here, we will look into the benefits of HBOT for athletes.
1. Injury Treatment and Natural Healing
The traditional method of injury treatment and healing for most athletes is taking adequate amount of rest. However, a long absence from the competitive sports arena could be disastrous for the career of any professional sportsperson in the world.
Research and studies have found HBOT to be quite effective for injury treatment consuming a comparatively lesser amount of time in the healing process. This game-changing treatment modality under atmospheric pressure of up to 2.4 ATA, assists the injured tissues to absorb more amount of oxygen than what is available under normal air pressure. In the increased air pressure, the hyperbaric oxygen therapy allows pure oxygen to dissolve in our blood, cerebral fluids, and the plasma. Therefore, areas experiencing limited blood flow and oxygen deprivation receives a large amount of pure oxygen, boosting the healing process significantly.
2. Recovery Enhancement
An athlete’s training program consists of six core categories, namely, training, practice, conditioning, competition, injury treatment, and recovery. Amidst such demanding training schedules, it is important for the body to rest so that it can recover and cope with the strains for the future hurdles.
However, passive recovery is not always beneficial for athletes and sports personalities, especially the ones interested in enhancing their performance during their recovery time. Athletes under doctor’s prescription often resort to active recovery methods such as hyperbaric therapy to avoid sitting around and optimize performance.
3. TBI and Concussion Treatment
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that approximately 3 million Traumatic Brain Injury cases are reported each year, out of which almost ten percent takes place while playing sports. Studies have found hyperbaric therapy for sports to be beneficial for the treatment TBI and concussion in athletes. The oxygen-rich environment of HBOT along with the increased air pressure helps in countering nausea, pain, fatigue, and other symptoms of TBI, apart from enhancing the body’s natural healing capabilities.
4. Performance Boost
Athletes and sports-persons are always looking out for techniques to boost their performance on the field and gain an edge over other competitors. Many of them even train at higher altitudes to enhance the body’s oxygen-carrying capabilities and increase the production of red blood cells. Sports hyperbaric therapy gives out similar results by increasing the oxygen content and blood circulation of the body.
5. Compartment Syndrome Treatment
Joggers, recreational runners, and elite marathon runners are often diagnosed with the compartment syndrome. A rare but painful ailment, the compartment syndrome takes place when our body’s internal pressure increases as a result of bleeding or swollen tissues. Some medical experts are of the view that the oxygen-rich environment of the hyperbaric oxygen therapy can benefit in the recovery and prevention of this health condition.
6. Metal Focus Enhancement
While physical stamina and skill are necessary to take part in competitive sports, it is also very important to work on mental focus and clarity at the same time. Metal strength is as important as skill and stamina to reach the winner’s podium. Some studies have found hyperbaric oxygen therapy useful in countering brain fog, dizziness, and vision problems, enhancing the overall performance of an athlete.
7. Bone Fracture Treatment
A number of studies and research have demonstrated the effectiveness of HBOT for treating and healing bone fractures in the animals, such as rats and rabbits. In all these studies, hyperbaric oxygen therapy was used either as the primary or the supplementary mode of treatment for bone fractures. These experiments showed that not only HBOT assisted in bone and cartilage formation but also increased the bone mineral density in the animals.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for sports is currently seen as a game-changing solution for athletes looking to recover fast and improve their performance or treat a serious injury. However, it is advised to consult a doctor before opting for HBOT. Nevertheless, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is regarded as a promising treatment modality for sports-related injuries.
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