As portable hyperbaric oxygen chambers get a better reputation in the medical world, they also are becoming more widely used for those who simply want to be more healthy or fit. Athletes who have access to the chambers have made hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) a sort of trend.
Pro football star Darren Sharper has his own chamber and uses it in his own home. His is portable, so he is able to take it along when his teach travels. The set includes the foldable, zip-up chamber and an attached generator that pumps pure oxygen into it. Sharper has said that he uses it daily for between two and three hours and feels better because of it, more relaxed and more rested each morning. The athlete first used the hyperbaric chamber because of a knee injury, and has continued the HBOT ever since.
Hyperbaric therapy increases the ability of red blood cells and plasma to carry oxygen to the tissue in the body, healing any ruptures or tears and generally restoring the body to excellent condition very quickly. After time, muscle can be repaired and the brain will function better. Some athletes also use the hyperbaric chamber as an alternative to altitude training or blood replacement.
Lance Armstrong, the seven-time Tour de France winner who recently made a comeback and placed third in another Tour, has also used a portable hyperbaric oxygen chamber. Many cyclists train at higher altitudes, where there is less oxygen, so that the body feels like it has more than enough at regular elevations. Sometimes this makes an athlete’s lung capacity greater, as well as simply enabling the red blood cells to carry more oxygen. Other athletes get blood taken out of their body and train with this deficiency, so that the body is used to working with less blood and oxygen, then get the blood replaced before a race or game. There are medications that replenish the oxygen supply in the blood, but these drugs are banned from most events, and hyperbaric chambers remain one of the most effective and well-regarded methods for athletic training.
Armstrong’s career has been fraught with battles against cancer, but though doctors have experimented with hyperbaric chambers for cancer treatment, most experts agree that Armstrong was using the chamber for athletic reasons. HBOT has also delivered positive results for patients of strokes, autism, cerebral palsy, and many other diseases and afflictions. Not all doctors are ready to endorse HBOT in all cases, just because its effects could be different for any patient. But as its success rate climbs higher and higher, doctors are more readily recommending it for patients with diseases as well as athletes and anyone interested.
Do as much research as possible before investing in one of these. The hyperbaric chamber could be perfect for you as an athlete, or just as someone who wants to maximize healthiness.