Medical professionals have recommended hyperbaric oxygen therapy for a variety of issues in many different populations. A newer application for this treatment is athletic performance-related needs. Athletes experience many of the same issues that HBOT has been known to assuage, leading to the conclusion that it may benefit athletes to consider HBOT for sports recovery.
Biological Impact Of HBOT
When patients undergo HBOT, they receive pressurized 100% oxygen in a specifically designed chamber. This allows oxygen both to bind to blood cells better and diffuse at higher rates into the bloodstream, optimizing a biological need for oxygen to perform many functions. Athletics have become more and more competitive and intense in recent decades, creating an industry that may be physically taxing for invested professional and high-level athletes. HBOT may be able to ease the bodily impact that intense athleticism demands, either as a sole or adjunct treatment.
Edema is the build-up of fluids in the body, which can lead to swelling and poor circulation. This may be an issue for athletes whose sports cause a significant production of waste compounds as a result of intense muscle use. HBOT is known to reduce edema, which may be useful for athletes who are heavily training and are burdened by circulation issues.
Healing Tears And Breaks
The body needs oxygen to heal itself. An increased concentration of oxygen available to the tissue can accelerate the healing process for both surface and musculoskeletal injuries, which is why medical professionals have implemented HBOT to treat chronic and acute wounds.
The healing process of external wounds is similar to the internal process of remedying injuries such as torn ligaments in the sense that the body needs oxygen and efficient circulation to repair itself. The increased oxygen content facilitates the diffusion of oxygen to the tissue and fulfills the body’s repair mechanism needs that are necessary to get athletes back into the game.
Lessening Impact Of Head Injuries
The dangerous impact of head trauma has recently risen to the forefront of sports medicine. Athletes who have sustained repeated concussions from contact sports such as football, rugby, and boxing have suffered from neurological and cognitive issues later in life. Studies have shown that HBOT may have a neuroprotective effect and help athletes recover from traumatic brain injuries. The treatment is most effective if administered very closely after the trauma is sustained and for a set duration afterward as the medical professional determines.
Using HBOT for recovery is one of the earliest ways that athletes have tapped into the restorative properties of oxygen therapy.
An Alternative Recovery Method
The anti-inflammatory effects of the increased biological presence of oxygen would make HBOT relevant to athletes for reasons beyond healing specific injuries. Athletes who have long seasons may choose to relieve their bodies through passive recovery, as in resting and not exercising, or through cross-training, which involves low-intensity exercise that is not in their main sports regiments, such as biking or swimming. An alternative to either of these methods is oxygen therapy, which allows athletes to take proactive measures to speed their recovery in the wake of long periods of intense athleticism.
Evidence Of Efficacy In Aiding Recovery
The use of HBOT for reducing muscular fatigue is a long-standing practice. During the 1998 Winter Olympics, researchers conducted a study on competing athletes to determine if administering HBOT had any impact on recovery rates. Though the pool tested was small, all the athletes exhibited shorter periods of recovery. Another study corroborated those results, showing that HBOT helped the body get rid of lactic acid and ammonia byproducts at faster rates, which also speeds recovery.
Learn More About Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy For Sports Recovery
If you are curious about HBOT and how it may benefit athletes, RegenQuest offers HBOT services for patients with a wide range of needs. We also have a specialized peak performance sports program that integrates HBOT, sports nutrition, and a general health assessment. To learn more, contact us today at (954) 571-9392.