Everyone wants an edge these days, whether it be in basketball or your job. People want to get faster, stronger, and smarter in anyway as fast as possible, and one of the easiest ways is using special equipment or supplements. With this trend comes many such products, promising results in quick and absurd ways. One these is the Altitude or Elevation Mask, a mask that totes benefits such as increased stamina and performance. Or so they say.
What Is An Altitude Mask
An Altitude Mask is a mask that partially inhibits airflow. Like something out of a sci-fi film, the mask reduces the amount of air you can breathe in. The marketed benefits include increased stamina, athletic performance, improved cardiovascular strength, and pretty much everything else under the sun.
Do Altitude Masks Actually Work
For all the benefits these companies market it with, the answer is no. The main idea behind it was that the body adapts to high-altitude environments by releasing more hemoglobin & myoglobin in the blood along with increasing capillary density, subsequently increasing the transportation of oxygen to the muscles. These adaptations and benefits are certainly seen in people living in high-altitude environments, the issue however is that the reason these adaptations are seen is that oxygen content in the air is reduced due to pressure, not an overall reduction in air. Altitude masks don’t offer this atmospheric pressure and certainly for not enough time for the body to adapt to.
The other toted benefit is increased cardiovascular strength. However, this is very debatable. An explanation of this perceived benefit may be rather than increased cardiovascular strength, promotion of conscious proper and deep breathing is the reasoning for increased oxygen intake and efficiency.
As proper breathing is essential for optimal health and both physical and mental performance, performing it would reap this benefits. Even most athletes don’t practice deep, diaphragmatic breathing. Altitude masks can aid in this endeavor by making you more consciously and forcefully breath, pacing yourself as if you were meditating.
Most people aren’t able to actually use 100% of their lungs, instead only using about 2 thirds. You can rectify this by practicing proper breathing techniques and exercising. However it takes time, slowly itching away at that closed bottom of your lungs. Where altitude masks come in is that it restrains the amount of oxygen you inhale for the amount of force and duration. When you take a deep breathe for as long as you can, you stop when your lungs fill. With the amount of oxygen intake reduced, you can inhale stronger and for longer. This will help ease up your lungs in order to allow for an increased maximum volume of oxygen. You will also be able to breathe easier when you remove it, similar to down-hill running and weight vests.
So do they work? Not for what they are supposed to do. Should you use them for exercising? Definitely not. But you should use them for a proper breathing exercise. Using it in tune with a meditation period outside would reap you exponential benefits, certainly giving you an edge over your competition. They are expensive, but you if you can afford one then I definitely recommend purchasing one. You might be able to find a less expensive (albeit lower quality) one for under $30.