“This piece originally comes from Fox News: Can elevation training masks improve your endurance?”
Bicyclists and long-distance runners have traditionally trained at greater elevations (in between 6,000 and 10,000 feet above water levels) then returned to sea level to enhance their athletic performance. But if you’re not into climbing Mt. Everest, could a high elevation masks use the same benefits?
We just recently got this question from an audience:
Dear Dr. Manny,
I was playing around Central Park in NYC and saw a bunch of runners wearing elevation training masks. I check out athletes utilize them to build up their lung capacity and improve endurance, however, do they work, and are they safe to use?
At a higher elevation, the quantity of oxygen in the air is lowered, and your body makes up for this by producing more hemoglobin– the protein in the red cell that transports oxygen to tissues to produce energy for your body. In time, training at high elevations is believed to produce more hemoglobin in your body so that when you go back to water level, that additional red cell continue to bring more oxygen to your tissues and thus offer you more energy to push yourself harder for a short amount of time. However, research studies recommend this additional increase lasts only for about 15 days before it fades and normalizes.
Some elevation masks stimulate altitude training by making your body work harder to breathe. Theses masks utilize a valve system to lower the quantity of airflow to the lungs, which requires you to take deeper breaths. This is what’s referred to as “restricted-air training” or “inspiratory muscle training.”
When lungs are pressed to work harder, the area in the alveoli– the tiny air sacs where the lungs and the blood stream exchange carbon dioxide and oxygen, get stretched– making more space for blood and oxygen to circulation. But Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonologist a Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, is skeptical of its stretching ability.
” You cannot increase your lung capability past a certain point,” Horovitz told FoxNews.com. It’s not entirely flexible that you can keep stretching it like taffy. There is a limitation.”
The idea behind the mask’s effectiveness is that gradually your lungs will adapt to this kind of air resistance and use readily available oxygen more efficiently– and, as an outcome, increase your lung capability and aerobic thresholds, too.
“The Training Mask 2.0 improves physical fitness and athletic performance by applying peripheral air resistance to inhaled air using six various elevation-resistance flux valve settings. The included load from this air resistance strengthens the respiratory musculature. Simply puts, it’s like raising weights for your breathing muscles, which yields some advantages with continued usage,” Casey Danford, CEO of Training Mask, informed FoxNews.com.
While professional athletes like Marshawn Lynch from the Seattle Seahawks applaud these training masks for providing an additional increase before video game time, not all experts support this type of training technique.
” Unfortunately the air you’re breathing when utilizing a resistance [elevation] mask is of the same density and would be unlikely to cause an adaptive change, such as an elevation of your hemoglobin or blood oxygen bring capability,” Dr. Teo Mendez, a New York-based sports medicine doctor and a runner himself, told FoxNews.com. “And there is no proof that resistance masks enhance the ability of your body to utilize oxygen or boost efficiency.”
A 2016 study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine reported the Training Mask 2.0 (ET mask) enhanced numerous areas of breathing performance. The report revealed: improved ventilatory limit (VT), an indirect measure of the anaerobic threshold; power output (PO), or workload at VT; respiratory settlement limit (RCT), the point late in exercise screening at really high work; and PO at RCT while wearing the ET mask.
In the research study, 24 moderately trained individuals ended up six weeks of high-intensity stationary cycling exercises two times a week for 30 minutes.
” It’s hard to know what to make of those findings. If an enhancement in aerobic capability had taken place, VT and VO2max (optimum oxygen intake) need to have been increased along with the increase in RCT, and although VT and VO2max averaged somewhat greater in ET mask than control subjects, the differences were not statistically significant,” Dr. Thomas Aldrich, a going to doctor of Pulmonary Medicine at Montefiore Health System, informed FoxNews.com. “By convention, scientists considered that to mean that we have neither proven nor disproven the hypothesis that the ET mask improved VT or VO2max better than the control mask.”
Although research on elevation training masks has stirred debate amongst scientists and advocates of the innovation, Aldrich, even more, alerted the devices include particular dangers that customers should understand.
“Inspiratory resistance breathing causes high intrathoracic unfavorable pressure swings. In dehydrated individuals, that can impair venous return into the chest and heart, lowering left ventricular output, potentially triggering syncope– or losing consciousness,” stated Aldrich, who is a professor of pulmonary medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
Even in well-hydrated individuals, if they have uncontrolled hypertension or any cardiac issues that they’re not knowledgeable about, this kind of pressure could potentially have significant consequences, Aldrich included.
Keep in mind; you should regularly talk to your physician before making any significant changes to your physical fitness program.