When we breathe we are only moving oxygen into the blood. Our bodies bring the air close to the blood in the lungs and allow air pressure to force oxygen across the membranes into the blood. The increased pressure of a hyperbaric chamber forces more oxygen into the blood and cerebral fluid. The enriched blood allows the muscles to recover more rapidly following races and strenuous workouts. Hyperbaric chamber sessions can also be used before hard workouts or races to supersaturate the body’s tissues with oxygen. The additional oxygen can then be used without the heart or lungs having to provide it to the muscles. This may result in greater fat burning, decreased lactic acid production, and improved endurance performance.
When you suffer an injury, should you breathe in pure oxygen to hasten the healing process? That's what some sports scientists are recommending, as the inhalation of oxygen under high pressure (HBOT) becomes an increasingly popular form of treatment for hurting athletes. Several English football teams have used the technique to successfully treat injured players; in one case, an athlete with ligament damage reduced recovery time by 33% 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. In the United States, numerous professional athletic teams, including ice hockey (NHL), football (NFL), basketball (NBA) and soccer (MLS), utilize and rely on the use of hyperbaric oxygen as adjuvant therapy for numerous sports-related injuries acquired from playing competitive sports. There are real physiological explanations for hyperbaric oxygen therapy's supposed benefits. First of all, hyperbaric oxygen therapy boosts white blood cell activity in damaged parts of the body, which should help control infections. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy also tends to constrict blood vessels and decrease the amount of blood pumped by the heart. Although this sounds like a negative effect, it may actually diminish blood flow to an injured region, helping to reduce pressure and swelling.
"...In recent years, professional and college teams have started using hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO2) to treat sports injuries. From muscle contusions and ankle sprains to delayed-onset muscle soreness, HBO2 has been used to facilitate soft-tissue healing (1-7). To minimize the time between injury and HBO2 treatment, some professional sports teams have on-site centers. Because of the importance of oxygen in the aerobic energy system, many athletes and researchers have also investigated the possible ergogenic effects of HBO2."
J. Scott Delaney, MD; D. L. Montgomery, PhD "The Physician and Sports Medicine" Vol 29, No. 3, March 2001
"I have used hyperbaric technology with my clients to maximize recovery from injury, enhance endurance performance, and accelerate post-workout recovery. Hyperbaric sessions benefit all serious athletes, from beginner to elite. One client in particular, professional triathlete Dan MacKenzie, was in a serious bike accident during a race this year. His doctors told him that he would not be able to swim for at least two weeks. The use of a hyperbaric chamber accelerated his recovery from the injuries and cut his recovery time in half. For a professional athlete, getting back to training one week earlier is a big deal."
- Ken Mierke, World Champion Triathlete, author, coach.