Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a medical treatment which enhances the body’s natural healing process by inhalation of 100% oxygen in a total body chamber, where atmospheric pressure is increased and controlled. It is used for a wide variety of treatments usually as a part of an overall medical care plan. Under normal circumstances, oxygen is transported throughout the body only by red blood cells. With HBOT, oxygen is dissolved into all of the body’s fluids, the plasma, the central nervous system fluids, the lymph, and the bone and can be carried to areas where circulation is diminished or blocked. In this way, extra oxygen can reach all of the damaged tissues and the body can support its own healing process. The increased oxygen greatly enhances the ability of white blood cells to kill bacteria, reduces swelling and allows new blood vessels to grow more rapidly into the affected areas. It is a simple, non-invasive and painless treatment.
Athletes and HBOT
A sports injury can be devastating to a professional athlete’s career. Professional athletes that are forced to miss practice or competition due to injury can face being cut from their team or non-renewed contracts. Because a professional athlete’s success is largely due to their body’s ability to perform at the highest level, many are turning to HBOT for quick recovery from injuries and workouts.
The majority of sports related injuries involve strains and sprains, which cause swelling and edema (accumulation of excess fluid in connective tissue). Coupling HBOT with traditional rehabilitation methods allows healing time to be significantly reduced permitting the athlete’s to return to training and competition much faster.
If you’re an injured runner, should you breathe in pure oxygen to hasten the healing process? Several English football teams used hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO3) to treat their players this year, apparently with excellent results. In one case, an athlete with ligament damage reduced recovery time by 33 per cent with hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and a second player receiving hyperbaric oxygen therapy recovered in only four days even though doctors had predicted a three-week lay-off.
Benefits of HBOT
- Significantly reduces swelling
- Significantly shortens the inflammatory process
- Improves range of motion
- Increases the production of collagen
- Increases growth of cells that form reparative tissue (Fibrolastic Proliferation)
- Enhances the growth of blood vessels (angiogenesis)
- Increases oxygen levels in tissues (Hyperoxia)
- Increases endurance during workouts
- Decreases recovery time between workouts
- Alleviates chronic headaches