The modern sports world is highly competitive. Professional athletes put their bodies to the test on a daily basis. As they are tasked with consistently performing at peak levels, their physical endurance is often tested in extreme situations. So what can athletes do to take care of their bodies? How have modern science and technological innovations contributed to this process?
Most professional athletes have been gym rats for much of their adult lives, gridining in the weight room to become stronger, and putting in the time to hone the skills for their particular sport. The hard work improves their strength, quickness, stamina, and endurance, all of which combine to hopefully improve their game day performance. While certain sports, including football and hockey put beatdown on the players, all athletes put their bodies to the test when competing at the highest levels.
All of us need to take care of our bodies. But for professional athletes, it is an absolute necessity, as they depend on their own physical wellbeing to provide for themselves and their families. It is their most prized possession and they must treat it accordingly, which is why some players even insure body parts.
One of the newer forms of treatment that some of the biggest sports stars in the world have adopted is called Cryotherapy, which uses extreme cold to improve the recovery of muscles accelerates healing times. The treatment entails entering a chamber, where liquid nitrogen creates extremely cold air (roughly 30 degrees Fahrenheit), which is applied to the affected area or entire body.
The benefits of cryotherapy include reduced healing time of muscles and damaged tissues from 72 hours to just 24 hours. Additionally, the treatment is said to reduce inflammation, which can occur in the ongoing beating that many athletes consistently experience. As a bonus for the overall physical improvements, cryotherapy can help to boost the body’s metabolism, further incentivizing its use over other forms of recovery methods.
Entering a cryotherapy chamber may appear like something out of a science fiction movie, but many athletes publicly noted its benefits. Lebron James and world champion boxer Floyd Mayweather have each adopted the treatment and have raved about its results.
Another advanced treatment for athletes looking to improve their healing time is called Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT). While bizzare at first glance, some players spend extended time inside these “chambers,” even treating their bodies while they snooze. Hyperbaric chambers are known to reduce healing time from various injuries.
So how does this form of treatment work? Hyperbaric chambers are centered around the intake of increased levels of oxygen, which can provide amazing benefits for its users. The standard amount of oxygen in the atmosphere is about 21%. Depending on the individual treatment, hyperbaric chambers can be used to pump in oxygen at a rate that is 150% to 300% greater than normal. The result is as much as 20 time more oxygen entering into a person’s blood flow and in turn reaching organs and tissues. Some forms of treatment have patients taking in as much as 100% oxygen. This treatment level requires a doctor’s prescription, due to its classification as a drug by the FDA.
So how does HBOT benefit athletes? The most profound benefit is a distinct reduction in recovery time and healing from ailments, pain, and even injuries. Areas that have endured swelling can also see improvement and a reduction of symptoms. The treatment is also known for promoting the growth of new blood cells.
Overall, HBOT continues to grow increase in popularity among pro athletes. Terrell Owens is known for his personalized chamber, which he has showcased on numerous occasions. Owens injured his ankle as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. In the midst of a prolific season, the team was prepared to enter their final two regular season games without their most dangerous offensive weapon. As he prepared for their playoff run, Owens said: “I feel I’m a pretty good healer, believe me. I’ve already moved my hyperbaric chamber down to my living room. I’ll be in that trying to get myself back on the field as soon as I can. I’m going to be smart about the situation.”
Cupping is actually an ancient form of treatment that has been used for thousands of years in Asia. The technique involves using placing a “cup” on a person’s skin, generally in the area that demands the treatment. The cup, which is often made of glass, is then heated in order to create a strong suction, which can cause blood to flow faster to the surrounding area.
While cupping may seem to leave painful marks on the skin, its benefits are apparently worth it for athletes who need relief in a short time period. Athletes often pursue cupping treatments for the relief of various aches and pains, anxiety, fatigue, migraines, and loosening stiff muscles.
In modern sports, Michael Phelps is notorious for employing the treatment. Spectators of the 2016 Rio Olympic games were surprised to see his body full of large circles, until it was later clarified that he was undergoing cupping treatments to relieve pain and reduce healing time, as he prepared for his next contest.
You’ve probably seen this a lot in recent years, as this treatment method that has been adopted by many athletes. While Kinesio tape itself contains no medicine in any way, it offers a practical solution to athletes suffering from a wide range of restrictive symptoms.
The first and most obvious benefits of Kinesio tape is pain relief. So how does a piece of elastic tape help to reduce muscular pain? The elastic on the tape helps to slightly lift the skin, lowering the pressure on pain receptors located under the skin. In addition, the same “lift” also reduces pressure on the lymphatic drainage channels, thereby allowing for fluids in the surrounding areas of an injury to disperse more easily. The same benefit is evident when a person has bruises and contusions, which can often appear for athletes who participate in contact sports. Advocates of the Kinesio tape also claim the benefits for overused muscles and expediting their recovery. The tape itself helps to improve circulation as a whole, thereby increasing the oxygen delivery across the body.
Professional athletes often must adhere to a rigorous activity schedule, and they are constantly looking for ways to relieve pain, bruises, and contusions, in order to recover in time for their next demanding activity.