The human body usually takes a couple of days or more to heal and recover from vigorous, daily exercise. It, however, takes longer to heal external and internal injuries depending on the severity of the condition. However, with scientific discoveries and technological advancements in the world of sports medicine, some non-traditional and novel techniques have emerged that are being used by sports personalities to enhance the rate of recovery. These new therapies are increasingly gaining popularity and are quickly replacing the usual recovery routines including stretching, rolling, and taking ice-baths.
Novel Recovery and Healing Techniques Used By Sports Persons
Here are three non-traditional recovery methods that are increasingly gaining popularity among athletes for helping reduce the recovery period.
LeBron James, Novak Djokovic, Michael Phelps, and Terrel Owens are just some of the athletes who use and have used the hyperbaric chamber to gain quick recovery to return to the field on time. National Football League (NFL) players are known to reap the hyperbaric chamber benefits the most to accelerate the healing process and get back to the game quickly after an injury, especially during an ongoing season.
This non-traditional recovery mechanism has gained exponential popularity and is now used by collegiate level athletes as well. Sportspersons prefer the hyperbaric chamber for day-to-day recovery as well as injury healing because this non-traditional treatment technique is painless and non-invasive in nature. Therefore, the athletes do not have to worry about recuperating from post-surgical pain and can save that time to get back to the game quickly and start practicing their sport.
When a person enters the hyperbaric chamber, he/she breathes in 100 percent pure, unadulterated oxygen in a higher atmospheric pressure environment. Under normal circumstances (at sea level) we breathe in just 21 percent oxygen. As we all know, oxygen is a key element used by our body to heal injuries and the hemoglobin in our blood has the ability to carry and deliver oxygen to all parts of the body. However, due to an injury, blood vessels in one particular area of the body may get damaged, leading to inadequate oxygen delivery, that can then lead to hypoxia and inflammation.
The higher atmospheric pressure inside the hyperbaric chamber helps the additional oxygen to dissolve in not only the blood plasma but also the body fluids, so that it can be delivered to the injured body part. The hyperbaric chamber benefits in accelerating the natural healing process of the body in a painless manner through the use of oxygen.
The increased inflow of oxygen facilitates brain function and speeds up the healing process for injuries. Athletes diagnosed with Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), Ischemia, Muscle Stretch Injury, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Concussions, Ankle sprains, and various other types of ailments and injuries can reap the hyperbaric chamber benefits as this treatment method can treat a serious injury in a natural manner, accelerate healing, facilitate active recovery, and also provide athletes with a performance boost.
A controlled scientific research was conducted in 1998 to find the effect of hyperbaric therapy on muscle injury sustained by rabbits. The rabbits were divided into two groups – treatment and control. The treatment group was exposed to 95 pure oxygen administered at 2.5 ATA to heal their injuries. The control group, on the other hand, was not treated with HBOT. After 7 days of treatment, it was seen that the rabbits in the treatment group experienced accelerated recovery rates after suffering from acute muscle stretch injury.
Another innovative treatment technique used by athletes for fast recovery is the use of compression boots. These boots are used to flush out waste products from the body by compressing both the legs. These boots cover up the entire leg and provide compression for half an hour or 20 minutes to improve blood circulation for quick recovery.
The entire boot is divided into different sections which compress and decompress the legs simultaneously to improve blood flow in the limbs, repair tissues, and induce flexibility. The constant compression and decompression allows the body to move the fluids to the cardiac system, helping in flushing out the toxins from the legs.
The Compression Boots have many other benefits, apart from providing fast recovery. These boots can reduce inflammation, arrest the development of cellulite, which is extremely important for athletes and also prevents the formation of varicose veins by eliminating first-stage varicose.
We are familiar with the term cryo, thanks to the numerous sci-fi movies we’ve watched over the years. However, this is no scientific fantasy that we see on the silver screen. Cryotherapy is similar to an ice-bath, except for the fact that rather than sitting in a tub filled with ice-cold water or ice, the athlete will be standing in a cold tank in below-freezing temperatures. Cryotherapy sessions last for only 3 to 5 minutes but are known to speed up the recovery process significantly by reducing inflammation and pain.
According to the Cooper Institute and scientific research over time (Gill et al., 2006, Wozniak, et al., 2007, and Banfi et al., 2007), it was found that cryotherapy promoted muscle fiber repair after a workout session. The conclusion was drawn based on the decreased levels of the enzyme creatine kinase, which is used as an indicator of muscle damage following a workout.
While the above-mentioned treatment techniques are increasingly used by professional sports-persons, it should be included in the recovery strategy only after consulting a doctor about it. Although compression boots, cryotherapy, and hyperbaric chamber benefits in active recovery, these should only be used under the advise and supervision of a trained medical professional.