A recent Wall Street Journal article reported that #1 ranked Novak Djokovic and several other tennis players frequently spend time in hyperbaric chambers after matches. This supposedly helps athletes recover and prevents injury.
|A hyperbaric pod|
Also mentioned in the Wall Street Journal article was the Vacusport,, "a long tube with a skirt that seals the players legs in a vacuum and flushes lactic acid." Again, no evidence that it works was provided.
I found a paper presented at a 2013 conference in Egypt called "Sport Science in the Arab Spring" that looked at 10 basketball players with an average age of 17 who exercised on a treadmill at increasing inclines for about 20 minutes. Lactate levels were drawn at several intervals during the period of exercise and after the subjects spent 30 minutes in the Vacusport. The average lactate concentration fell from 8.8 mmol/L after exercise to 1.1 mmol/L which the authors said was a significant difference [statistics not provided].
Before you jump on the Vacusport bandwagon, I must point out that we don't know how fast these athletes would have cleared their lactates without the device. That's what is known in research parlance as a "control group."
A study of 33 swimmers found that after intense racing they reduced their lactates of >10.5 mmol/L to normal levels by simply swimming a modified workout for 20 minutes.
The Vacusport paper looks a like Nobel Prize candidate compared to a study of the Elevation Training Mask, a device which supposedly reduces the level of inspired oxygen without the expense of training at altitude where the percentage of oxygen in the air is lower due to the decreased atmospheric pressure.
|Elevation Training Mask|
A case report published on the Elevation Training Mask website [but not in a scientific journal] must be read to be appreciated fully. An intrepid chiropractor wore the mask himself during 6 weeks of exercising.
Over the course of the experiment his peak expiratory flow rose 4%, his 1 second forced expiratory volume rose 1.3%, and his oxygen saturation rose from 96% to 99%,. No statistical analysis was performed, but the author said, "I do feel that this change was significant that oxygenation reached the 99%." I disagree. Even it was significant, an oxygen saturation rise of 3% is not clinically significant. [See my post on why oxygen is not a performance enhancing drug.]
A website called Bodybuilding.com explains in more detail why the mask could not possibly simulate altitude training.
Rather than rack my brain trying to come up with a pithy comment about the mask, I'll use one I found on Bodybuilding.com. "According to Alex Viada, a successful hybrid-training coach and founder of Complete Human Performance, such high-altitude devices 'simulate altitude in the same way sticking your head in a toilet simulates swimming.'"