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ISSUE 22 ARCHIVE - WHY SPORTS STARS NEED HBOT

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is used as an adjunctive therapy to treat sports injuries, from the acute traumatic injury, to muscle contusions and ankle sprains. It is also used in treatment of joint, ligament, and tendon injuries reducing recovery time.

The use of hyperbaric chambers by sporting professionals is no new craze; at our chambers in London and Rugby alone we have been consistently treating sporting professionals from a variety of different sports with HBOT since we opened in 2004. In more recent years a number of top premiership football clubs have also invested in having their own hyperbaric facilities on site for injured players.

So why do athletes choose Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy? Well obviously athletes need to be in great physical health in order to perform well. The risk of injury in any sport is high and these days an increasing number of athletes are now becoming more involved with their care, recovery and wellbeing, and one of the therapies they are choosing to use is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy.

Hyperbaric oxygen helps with the reduction of swelling and facilitates soft tissue healing, the results can not only help to speed up recovery but can also aid their performance and reduce fatigue.

Don't believe us? Olympic gold medalist Greg Rutherford takes us through his HBOT journey that led to his epic 2012 win.

Greg Rutherford

Long-jumper Greg Rutherford's Olympic triumph, at London 2012, alongside his team-mates Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis, will come to define one of the greatest years in British sporting history.

'This is what I've dreamt of my entire life,' he told the BBC afterwards, evidently choked up as the sound of the 80,000 strong crowd hooped around him. Britain's first long-jump gold medallist since 1964, Greg had suffered years of agony as a result of repeated hamstring tears, which came close to ending his career.

His recovery and remarkable return to form is thanks to receiving HBOT treatment at London Diving Chamber in 2011.

Greg was 16 when he first tore his hamstring the three muscles that run up the back of the leg from the knee, enabling it to bend and straighten. About 6,000 Britons suffer similar damage to the soft tissues of the legs each year, but not all are sporting figures. Causes can range from obesity to car accidents.

'It was at the European Athletics Junior Championships in Lithuania,' Greg recalls. 'I'd just launched into my jump and it popped. The pain is instant, really sharp and acute. As soon as I landed I knew it was bad and I wouldn't be able to walk properly. I got up and had to be helped off the track, hobbling. From then on it spiralled into a never-ending cycle of tears and recovery.'

A hamstring strain occurs when one of the three muscles is stretched too far. It often happens in sports involving a lot of sudden stopping and starting, such as tennis and football. Hamstring injuries can range from a minor tear muscles are made up of bunches of fibres, some of which can rupture if overstretched to, more rarely, a complete break.

Injury is usually treated with rest, ice to reduce swelling, painkillers and anti-inflammatory medication along with leg elevation and stretching exercises.

It can take up to ten weeks to recover fully, with severe cases that need surgery taking longer. Although one tear doesn't necessarily leave you vulnerable to another, those playing sport regularly will always be more prone to them.

By 2007, Greg was averaging five tears a year, needing up to eight weeks of recovery. The following year, in despair at the constant pain, he nearly quit athletics altogether, despite being in full-time training. 'I'd be training, then have a tear, then recover for a while, then still be affected for another four weeks when I got back into training and then I'd tear it again. It got to a stage where I thought, "If this doesn't change, I'm never going to have a chance of winning at the Olympics."'

Determined not to let his friends and family down, he began looking for alternative treatments. United Kingdom Athletics (UKA) doctors were already aware of HBOT, and his new American coach, Dan Pfaff, had seen the effect on sportspeople in the US.

It couldn't have come too soon. Just a month before the World Championships in 2009 and 12 days before the qualifying rounds Greg pulled the tendon again. He started getting up at 5am every day to travel from his hometown of Milton Keynes to the London Diving Chamber, where his nearest HBOT chamber was housed.

For Greg, the positive effects were almost instant. 'You sit in a big metal tube, about 6ft wide and 5ft tall. It's quite hot, but not unpleasant, as I'm OK in confined spaces. You breathe oxygen through a face mask. I would usually go in on my own with a tender but you can have others in there.'

After three days, he started to notice a difference in the way his knee felt. 'The movement was better than it normally would be and after that it kept getting better. I couldn't believe that something so simple as oxygen and pressure could be having this effect.'

HBOT worked for Greg and took him all the way to gold, now at LDC and MDC we are looking after the next generation of athletes as they embark on their sporting careers. However oxygen healing is not just restricted to the professionals, semi pro or amateur marathon runners or sports players can also seek treatment and help enable their own injury recovery.

Interested in using HBOT for you or your teams sports injury rehabilitation? We run daily sessions at both of our chambers, Monday-Friday, at a variety of convenient times for patients. If you are a physio, trainer, athlete, or just a sports enthusiast, and would like to inquire about using HBOT for yourself or your team, please contact us today and we will be happy to discuss your requirements.

We are proud to treat a number of British Athletics top athletes at our chambers, helping to get them back to peak physical fitness following injuries and strains acquired during training sessions and competing in world events. Similarly England Rugby, Saracens, Northampton Saints, London Irish and Wasps rugby players are frequent patients for HBOT at our Midlands and London based chambers. We also see a number of premiership football and cricket players using HBOT on a regular basis to enable efficient and effective injury recovery time.

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