Can Ozone Therapy Boost Performance at Sport?
I recently stumbled across this article on unique recovery methods for football players. Admittedly, I don’t know much about football but was intrigued to see that ozone therapy was mentioned as one of the key recovery methods. I knew that athletes around the world use ozone therapy as their secret hack, but to see a body as institutionalised as the NFL endorsing it shows that the safety and efficacy are beyond reproach.
Why would a healthy sportsperson use ozone therapy?
Many people think about ozone therapy as a support for chronic disease such as cancer or immune disfunction. But the fact is that most of us can benefit, especially if we push our body to extremes. Sportspeople across the world have discovered that ozone therapy can improve performance and minimise recovery times after injury or exhaustion.
Does it really work?
In 2018, scientists in Turkey put ozone therapy to the test. They took a group of 30 football players and randomly assigned them to two groups. One training with ozone therapy 3 times per week and the other the same training without ozone therapy support. Here is their conclusion:
"The difference in performance increase was found significant between football players who were treated and not treated with ozone therapy. All athletes performed the same training program for 8 weeks. VO2max was increased 28% in ozone therapy-treated athletes but it was increased 12% in the control group. Max running time was increased 20% at ozone therapy-treated athletes, and it was increased %6 in the control group. In terms of these results, we can say that ozone therapy will be very effective for increasing athletic performance before season or tournaments."
What's the best way to access ozone therapy?
Lab rats on O3
Despite the lack of clinical trials in humans, work has been done on animal models. This study subjected groups of rats to high intensity exercise over a period of five weeks; a control group with no intervention and three different groups with varying daily ozone therapy doses. The group with the highest O3 dose outperformed the control by a whopping 34%. No wonder Cristiano Ronaldo is a fan!
Why medical ozone?
If you are an athlete, you should be concerned about oxygen delivery as it’s fundamental to the production of energy. This is the special ability of ozone therapy. Protocols such as rectal insufflation, vaginal insufflation and autohemotherapy are well documented to increase oxygen intake at the cellular level as well as driving mitochondrial function. The basis for ozone therapy in sports rests with these four claims:
- Increase of oxygen metabolism
- Reduction of muscular fatigue
- Increase of cellular detox
- Increase production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP)
For an athlete, keeping the cells working at maximum level can be the winning edge. Ozone therapy is known to increase the exchange of gasses from within the cell, purging toxins and other by-products more efficiently, reducing recovery time and injury risk
Is it doping?
Renowned ozone scientist Dr Lamberto Re was called before the world anti-doping body to give evidence. He submitted that while ozone therapy does increase performance, it should not be considered doping because it is only stimulating the body to perform as it should, much like vitamins.
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What about us?
We may not all be high performance athletes but that doesn’t mean we don’t want to maximise the potential of our own health and wellbeing. Every one of us faces our own daily challenges, our own Everest to climb. Keeping our health in the best possible state can only be a plus!