Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) in sports has become more prevalent in today’s collegiate and professional realm. Mild HBOT therapy provides a highly effective way to increase the volume of oxygen in the blood and thus increase the many beneficial effects that oxygen has on the body. It allows the body to get the oxygen it needs to create ATP for energy and flush out the lactic acid that causes muscle fatigue. The elevated oxygen levels help athletes increase performance and recover more quickly after a workout. Increased oxygen delivery to the brain facilitates brain function, and enhances an athlete’s ability to make split-second decisions that could be a difference in the outcome of a game.
Today professional athletes are using mHBOT chambers to give them that edge that they need to gain extra endurance and perform above the competition. Despite how futuristic sleeping in hyperbaric chamber may seem, this has actually become a common practice among many NFL players for a few years now. The hyperbaric chamber reduces swelling, promotes the healing of wounds, helps fight off dangerous infections, and increases the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream.
Naturally, in a sport as physically abusive and taxing as football, hyperbaric chambers are viewed as miracle sleeping bags that can assist in not only helping improving a player’s physical conditioning, but hyperbaric chambers can also assist in the healing of injuries sustained from a game. A hyperbaric chamber works by breathing in pure oxygen in air pressure levels that are 1 to 3 times higher than average.
Terrell Owens was one of the first players to start using HBOT. New York Giants running back Rashad Jennings uses his HBOT to sleep in. If Jennings has had a big training session or is hurting a little more than usual after a game, he will sometimes sleep overnight in the chamber and will spend anywhere from seven to 20 hours per week in it.
"I use it to rejuvenate and energise," Jennings told the New York Post. "Even on a cognitive level it helps out. I sleep in it every night in preseason training camp. I don't bring it on road trips, but during camp I do. When you wake up, you feel the difference."
LeBron James uses Hyperbaric chamber , NormaTec leg boots, and cryotherapy to maintain the athletic longevity of his aging body.
A sports injury can be especially devastating for an athlete. Often, athletes re-injure themselves or make their conditions worse by attempting to return to full activity before their bodies have healed completely. Athletes sidelined because of injury can lose their standing in national rankings, or their place on a team. Because elite athletes have so much at stake, many have turned to mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy to speed recovery.
Atlanta Falcons defensive end Adrian Clayborn uses HBOT three to four nights a week in six-hour increments, He sleeps in a hyperbaric chamber. "I've been doing it for about close to a year now and it's been helpful for me," Clayborn said. "It helps me with recovery. It's helped me feel better from day to day. I don't feel as beat up as I would not using it. A nutritionist I was working with it Miami turned me on to it, and I'm glad he did. It's been working out for me." Clayborn investigated methods to heal his body coming off two major surgeries. The former first-round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tore his right ACL during the 2012 season then had a right biceps tear last season before joining the Falcons. "I was scratching and searching for anything after my last injury," Clayborn said. "Now, I've felt more energy throughout the season. I'm not dragging my way through. I'm still playing fast and physical. So, it's been helping."
Clayborn suggested the hyperbaric chamber to a few of his teammates. Fellow defensive lineman Tyson Jackson, a seven-year veteran, briefly used the device prior to the 2009 draft. "I think it's awesome, but I'm claustrophobic so I couldn't do it for too long,"
The pressurized chamber in which athletes breathe pure oxygen, allows up to a tenfold increase in the oxygen level of the blood plasma and hemoglobin. The red blood cells become more malleable, increasing their ability to penetrate restricted blood vessels so that cells and tissues receive the oxygen they need to regenerate and heal. With hyperbaric treatment, a sprained ankle might recover in four days instead of eight; a bruised thigh could mend in one week, not three. Recovery time is reduced significantly, and athletes at all skill levels get back into play faster.