Is It Safe to Use an Elevation Mask When Lifting

So,weight-lifting-elevation-mask people in the gym are using those amazing elevation masks that make you look like some crazy superhero. Or maybe it's a super villain? Maybe they're even using them when they lift weights. The question is whether or not these elevation masks are safe when you are lifting weights?

Should You Use Elevation Masks When Lifting?

As question can be a double-edged sword because it's fairly complicated.

  1. Elevation masks don't have anything to do with training your body to work in higher elevations. What the elevation masks do is restrict the airflow that you get. The results will be an increase in the muscle work of your diaphragm and intercostal muscles. Training these muscles can have great effects in allowing you to take deeper breaths and may also prevent injuries to your diaphragm and intercostal muscles when doing activities such as weightlifting.
  2. One of the most common weightlifting injuries is a hiatal hernia which is a tear in the diaphragm.
  3. When using an elevation mask, and performing heaving lifting movements you are putting double the amount of pressure on your diaphragm. If you hold your breath at the wrong time or breathe incorrectly, you could damage your diaphragm.

Now I am all for cross-training and making sure that you get the most out of every workout. But this may be one area where it is not safe to train multiple muscle groups at the same time. Especially when one muscle group can become damaged while using the other set of muscles.

For example: when you strain too hard while doing a deadlift and tear a hole in your diaphragm causing a hernia. This could be amplified with the use of an elevation mask.

Why?

weight-lifting-breathing

You've increased the stress on your diaphragm and intercostal muscles by restricting the airflow. You now have strained diaphragm muscles and intercostal muscles when using the elevation mask, and you increased pressure to those muscles from squatting. To me, this sounds like a recipe for injury. You don't do yourself any favors by setting yourself up for failure.

If you want to train your respiratory muscles by using an elevation mask to prevent injury during weight lifting, you absolutely should. You should not do those activities while you are weightlifting. Anyone using an elevation mask while weight lifting is, in my opinion, an idiot. Increasing the pressure to your diaphragm while trying to train your diaphragm muscles is just asking to go to the hospital.

Am I too extreme?

Surely my suggestion that the use of an elevation mask, while weight lifting is dangerous and stupid, is a little extreme. I must be overly cautious or maybe even a little crazy right? Well, let's just take a look at what happens when you have a hiatal hernia and how you have to recover from that type of injury.

Hiatal Hernia Recovery

The only way to recover from a hiatal hernia is to have laparoscopic abdominal surgery. According to UNC Chapel Hill, it is a relatively short surgery with only one or two days in the hospital, and you can resume work in one to two days following the surgery. Exercise can be resumed in anywhere from 10 to 12 days with no more than light walking and no more lifting than 10 pounds.

Complications from hiatal hernia surgery include sexual dysfunction, bowel dysfunction, hernia, and infection.Many people who suffer from a hiatal hernia will have repeat injuries. Meaning it is not the only hiatal hernia they will get.

If you are a heavy duty body builder and someone told you that you couldn't lift more than 10 pounds for the rest of your life do you think you would listen to them? Probably not.

weight-lifting-restriction

 

So, unless you want to end up with medical restrictions leading you to a life of never lifting weights don't use an elevation mask while lifting. Train those muscles separately. Using elevation masks can be useful you can train your diaphragm muscles and your intercostal muscles so you can take bigger stronger and deeper breaths. But the pressure placed on the diaphragm during weight lifting, and while using an elevation mask combine to make a dangerous situation.

In the end, only you can decide what you believe is safe for you. But, I would strongly caution against using this product during weight lifting, and I would recommend if you choose to do so that you consult a physician first.

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