Hyperbaric Oxygen (HBO) in sports has become more prevalent in today’s collegiate and professional realm. Mild HBO 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.
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.
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.