Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a treatment that helps heal the body using chambers with high-pressure oxygen. HBOT repairs damaged tissues by increasing oxygen intake and providing 100% pure oxygen.This treatment can boost individual performance levels, but—until now—it hasn’t been put to the test with a placebo-controlled clinical trial. The effects of HBOT on physical performance have yet to be evaluated.Between May 2018 and December 2020, a team of doctors and healthcare specialists researched HBOT and how it affects physical performance using a double-blind controlled study. This study aimed to determine the effects of intermittent hyperbaric oxygen therapy on physical performance and mitochondrial function in 40-to-50-year-old athletes.
For this clinical trial, 37 top-tier athletes enrolled. Subjects had to match the following criteria to participate:
between the ages of 40 and 50
perform moderate-to-high aerobic sports for their age group at least four times per week
not suffer from any musculoskeletal injuries within the past three months
not have received HBOT treatment within the past three months for any reason
not have any of the following: debilitating lung, middle, or inner ear pathologies, claustrophobia, chronic illness, chronic medications, or active smoking habits
These 37 subjects underwent 40 repeated sessions of either HBOT or SHAM during this two-year study. Meanwhile, they continued their regular exercise and workout routines without alteration.
Of the 37 athletes enrolled in the study, 30 agreed to get muscle biopsies. Five biopsies failed the respiration analysis quality control test. After receiving their first biopsy, three athletes refused to get a second one and could not complete a proper evaluation.
The remaining subjects (10 from the HBOT group and 12 from the SHAM group) received a mitochondrial respiration assessment and an analysis of covariance (ANCOVA).
Using HBOT, doctors evaluated mitochondrial respiration by taking fine-needle biopsy muscle samples from the gluteus maximus. These biopsies occurred a week or two before intervention and one to two weeks after intervention. The Oroboros® Oxygraph-2 K helped measure mitochondrial respiration.
Through careful observation, analysis, and muscle biopsies, the research team concluded the following about HBOT and its effects:
Of the 22 athletes who underwent mitochondrial respiration assessment and ANCOVA, doctors evaluated mitochondrial mass in 12 (six from the HBOT group and six from the SHAM group). After completing HBOT, the results showed the following:
In terms of the effects of HBOT on physical performance, doctors made several important discoveries. The study shows that HBOT can give elite athletes an edge by breathing better than participants in the SHAM group. Following HBOT, these results came to light:
Athletes competing at high levels achieve peak physical performance through training and constant practice. But this study indicates hyperbaric oxygen therapy can increase performance levels even further.
The main improvements occurred in maximal oxygen consumption, power, and the anaerobic threshold. Muscle biopsies showed that HBOT might significantly improve mitochondrial respiration and increase mitochondrial mass.
This double-blind controlled study shows that HBOT increases maximal oxygen capacity considerably compared to SHAM treatment. While doctors and medical researchers understood a correlation between HBOT and increased maximal oxygen capacity, this is the first time a clinical trial proved it in humans.
Following the double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, healthcare experts found that HBOT can help increase physical performance levels in master athletes. The key findings from the clinical trial include:
Additional Read: Why Athletes Should Consider Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy treats outpatients with various medical conditions by breathing pure oxygen. These conditions include some of the following:
Many other medical conditions might be improved using HBOT, although healthcare providers may not approve HBOT to treat them. These conditions include:
HBOT includes a couple of different procedures to help treat medical conditions and damaged blood vessels resulting from injury. Both procedures use hyperbaric chambers, but one is for individual treatment while the other is a therapy room for treating multiple people. Healthcare staff increase air pressure significantly inside these chambers, monitoring it during the session.
Different patients receive different treatments depending on their medical condition. Treatments also depend on how severe the condition or injury might be. In some cases, patients require multiple therapy sessions to achieve the desired results. Other therapies and medications might also help supplement some HBOT treatments.
While undergoing this clinical trial, two of the healthy, middle-aged athletes from the HBOT group developed viral infections in the upper airway. Two subjects from the SHAM group acquired pneumonia. Doctors also had to treat a gluteal subcutaneous hematoma in a different subject after the second biopsy.
Side effects often accompany any therapy or treatment. HBOT is no exception. Following HBOT, you might experience mild, temporary side effects that usually come with medical treatment. But some side effects can be long-lasting, such as the following:
Although rare, other complications may occur during therapy. Before starting treatment or therapy, you should know what to expect and what could happen. Complications may include:
Talk to your healthcare providers if you have concerns or questions about side effects and complications during or following hyperbaric oxygen therapy. They will make sure you receive the best treatment for your medical condition.
While hyperbaric oxygen therapy can improve many different medical conditions, healthcare professionals don’t recommend it for everyone. HBOT can negatively affect people with certain types of conditions and illnesses. For example, if a patient has claustrophobia, HBOT can trigger it and make it worse.
Before getting hyperbaric oxygen therapy, ask yourself these questions:
Make sure to tell your doctor about any medical conditions you currently have. HBOT helps many patients, but it’s not the best option for everyone.
At NexGen Hyperbaric, we offer the highest quality HBOT therapy. Our dedicated medical professionals make sure every patient gets the best treatment for them with the least likelihood of side effects. We’ll answer any questions or concerns you might have.
To learn more about the effects of HBOT on physical performance and how it can help you, call NexGen Hyperbaric today at (888) 567-4302!
The information provided by The Center For Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Medicine LLC & NexGen Hyperbaric LLC does not constitute a medical recommendation. It is intended for informational and educational purposes only, and no claims, either real or implied are being made. Please consult with our physicians or your own physician for a detailed medical evaluation of your own personal and specific health needs and recommendations.