Let’s talk oxygen and pressure for recovery
As you can probably tell by my blog posts and my social media, I am a huge workout addict. I love to run, do high-intensity interval training, bike (indoor and outdoor), swim, snowboard, hike, yoga, etc.!
Since I am such an adrenaline and endorphin lover, I have learned throughout the years that good nutrition, sleep and recovery tools are key to being able to push my body like I do. For example, more recently, I’ve been playing around with my nutrition during long runs and bike rides, adding in electrolyte pills and Clif blocks, to keep me hydrated and energized. The cool part is that each block is 33 calories so technically I am breaking my fast…but for a good cause and not with many calories.
Good sleep is essential, period.
As for recovery tools, I’ve tried multiple approaches in the past such as cryotherapy, red light therapy, etc. which didn’t do much for me. Physiotherapy, massages and chiropractic care were the only tools that really helped me until I tried the hyperbaric chamber at Oxy Performance in Hermosa Beach.
When I was working full time for a very famous workout celebrity, he talked a lot about the benefits of using his hyperbaric chamber. I’d heard about these before, when training for my PADI scuba diving certification, but I didn’t know people used them in everyday life for recovery. I had also heard, from my mom who’s a horse surgeon, that they are used for treating racehorse injuries! I was intrigued by it all and was very excited when I got the opportunity to meet the owners of Oxy Performance and enjoy 3 sessions in the chamber.
Before I dive into my impressions of it, here’s a quick explanation of the hyperbaric chamber and what it does by the FDA :
Our body’s tissues need oxygen to function. The air we breathe is 21% oxygen.
HBOT (Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy) involves breathing 100% (pure) oxygen while in a special space called a hyperbaric chamber. The air pressure inside is raised to a level that is higher than normal air pressure. The increased air pressure in the chamber helps the lungs collect more oxygen. Getting more oxygen to the tissues that need it can help the body heal and fight certain infections.
A few more interesting facts about the hyperbaric chamber by Johns Hopkins medicine:
- helps wound healing by bringing oxygen-rich plasma to tissue starved for oxygen.
- helps block the action of harmful bacteria and strengthens the body’s immune system. It can disable the toxins of certain bacteria. It also increases oxygen concentration in the tissues. This helps them resist infection. In addition, the therapy improves the ability of white blood cells to find and destroy invaders.
- encourages the formation of new collagen (connective tissue) and new skin cells. It does so by encouraging new blood vessel formation. It also stimulates cells to produce certain substances, like vascular endothelial growth factor. These attract and stimulate endothelial cells necessary for healing.
You can see now why I was VERY EXCITED to try it for healing as well as to boost my immune system for the weeks of traveling that were ahead.
Oxy performance is in a convenient location in Hermosa Beach, on Pier Avenue, between all the cute shops and restaurants. I was warmly greeted by Sachia and Dominic, the owners of Oxy Performance. (Fun fact: Dominic is also from Quebec, what are the chances?)
They described the 2 chambers they have: a small one with greater pressure and a second more spacious chamber for beginners.
For the first session, I tried the bigger one, and followed on with the smaller one for the last 2.
What happens during your therapy:
- From the outside, when it’s still deflated, the chamber looks like a huge yeti bag with windows. When you climb into it, you must be careful to step on to the mattress inside the chamber, and not touch the sides to avoid damaging the wall.
- You then lie on your back on this lush mattress while your head rests on a pillow. They zip up the chamber, and as the air starts flowing you notice that the chamber begins to inflate.
- Sachia and Dominic keep checking in on you throughout the process, via hand signals through the little window and words if need be.
- A word of caution: if you are claustrophobic, this might be a little bit challenging for you. The room in which the chambers are located is super bright and there are plenty of windows in the chamber, so it feels pretty open. Sachia and Dominic will check in often with you, especially if you are claustrophobic. They are awesome!
- They eventually give you the sign to put the oxygen delivery system in your nose.
- Your ears will pop multiple times until you achieve the desired pressure, so be sure to swallow often or pinch your nose and blow out.
- It is also very convenient that you can bring anything you want into the chamber: a book, your phone, your computer, airpods. Everything is allowed and they will also share their wifi code with you.
- The time in the chamber varies but it’s typically between 1-1h 30 minutes. It’s a great time to meditate, listen to podcasts… and reflect on life.
- Once the time is up, they will start deflating the chamber, and ask you to remove the oxygen delivery system…and voilà!
To be honest, I was rather skeptical after the first treatment. I didn’t feel very different , but of course, one session is never enough to truly tell. I’m glad I booked the 3 sessions in a row, as recommended by Dominic, because after the 2nd treatment, I felt great and exhilarated during my run. As I run very consistently, I usually start off my runs with heavy legs and, halfway through, I start feeling aches and pains. After just 2 sessions at Oxy Performance, I felt different: light on my feet from the start, little aches and pains throughout the run… and fresh as a rose on the 3rd day and run.
I’m really excited to go back in January, once I’ve completed my 30 days on the road. My body will need the recovery!
In these more challenging times, Sachia and Dominic’s Oxy Performance was a very welcomed, exhilarating and mood-boosting tonic for me!