We have all seen someone at the park or the gym wearing one of those elevation masks that makes them look like a bad guy from the Batman franchise. Even people who live at elevation are not immune to seeing these people workout with the elevation masks on. But if you're living in the Mile High City, are elevation masks safe to use?
What Happens To Your Body At Elevation
Some pretty extensive physiological changes happen to the human body when you live at elevation. Because there is less oxygen per volume in the air you breathe, your body begins to adapt and compensate for the lack of oxygen. How does it change? Let's take a look at some of the main physiological changes the body undergoes when living at elevation.
All of these changes occur once the body is fully acclimated to living at high altitude.
- Erythropoietin triggers the production of more red blood cells in response to the decrease in oxygen in the air. More red blood cells will help aid in the delivery of oxygen to the muscles.
- Long term life at elevation can result in more capillaries and a better circulatory response when clearing lactate from muscles.
As you can see the benefits of living at elevation are primarily due to the lack of oxygen found in the higher elevations. This lack of oxygen is due to the decreased atmospheric pressure. Without the increased pressure found at sea level, there are simply fewer oxygen molecules per breath when at elevation.
What Happens When You Use An Elevation Masks
Before you even try on an elevation masks, you should be asking yourself "are elevation masks safe?"
This is doubly true if you plan on using them while you live at elevation. Let's take a look at elevation masks and what they do when you use them.
Typical elevation masks feature three circular vents. Each of the three vents can be adjusted to restrict the airflow into the mask. A proper fitting elevation masks will make a deal over the nose and mouth so that your only source of air is through the vents in the mask.
The purpose of the adjustable airflow is to train your respiratory muscles. The primary muscle groups responsible for breathing are your diaphragm and your intercostal muscles. The intercostal muscles are the muscles that are placed in between your ribs.
In addition to training your respiratory muscles and elevation mask also teaches your body to perform in lower air flow conditions. This does not alter the amount of oxygen you receive per breath, but it does limit the ability to take deep breaths. Ultimately this will result in a much more intense workout. What would normally be a 45-minute workout may only be a 10-minute workout with an elevation mask on.
Are They Safe At Elevation
Because the term elevation mask is largely a misnomer elevation masks are safe to use even if you live in cities like Denver. If you are looking to train your respiratory muscles to be able to take deeper breaths, then you really will benefit from using an elevation mask even when at higher altitudes. If you are looking to grab a quick, intense workout but don't want to change your entire routine adding an elevation mask to your workout even at high altitudes will allow you to reach a high-intensity workout in minimal time.
As with any new exercise equipment, it is important to train yourself how to properly use the equipment. Most elevation masks come with instructional DVDs. If you're still wondering "are elevation masks safe?" consults the manufacturer for safe use. If you have questions about whether or not it is safe for you to have restricted air flow when exercising make sure you consult your physician.
Are Elevation Masks Safe For People With Respiratory Conditions Who Live At Elevation
People with conditions like asthma or COPD can benefit from using restricted air flow devices like elevation masks to help train their respiratory muscles, even if they live at altitude the. Because of the risk for asthmatic responses to exercise the first time you use one of these you may want to be in the presence of a trained Medical Professional in case you have and unpredictable response. The way they train the muscles allow for great respiratory growth and improvements in pulmonary function test.
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