Sports and fitness have always been at the forefront of seeking innovative methods to enhance performance and accelerate recovery. Currently, intravenous therapy for athletes is gaining increasing popularity not only among elite professionals but also among fitness enthusiasts. This innovative method of giving your body the necessary vitamins, minerals, and hydration is revolutionizing the approach to muscle recovery.
Whether you are preparing for a top-league game or simply pushing your personal limits in the gym, understanding the potential benefits of intravenous therapy is becoming increasingly important. Continue reading to find out more!
How Does It Work?
Intravenous therapy for athletes is a treatment method in which essential fluids, vitamins, and minerals are delivered directly into the blood using an intravenous drip. It’s a concentrated replenishment of the body, necessary for its recovery and successful operation.
The principle of the drip is quite simple. A small needle is inserted into a vein, usually in the arm, and connected to a bag containing the necessary mixture of fluids. The nutrient solution enters the bloodstream, providing the body with a high concentration of vitamins and minerals almost immediately.
The duration of the procedure ranges from 30 minutes to 2 hours. For instance, a short infusion for rehydration after intense physical exertion may take only 30–45 minutes.
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Benefits of IV Therapy for athletes from a scientific point of view
1. Sports IV hydration
The human body is approximately 60% water, and maintaining the right fluid balance is crucial for various physiological processes, including muscle function, thermoregulation, and joint lubrication. When athletes exert themselves, they lose fluids through sweat. Drinking water or sports drinks can replenish these losses. However, their absorption rate through the gastrointestinal tract leaves something to be desired.
With intravenous therapy, nutrients are delivered directly into the blood, ensuring almost 100% bioavailability and an immediate source of hydration.
2. IV for sports recovery of muscles
Intensive physical exertions cause micro-tears in muscle fibers. The recovery of these micro-tears strengthens the muscles. The body requires a continuous supply of amino acids and other nutrients for this process.
Some IV preparations for athletes contain amino acids, antioxidants, and other compounds that aid in muscle recovery. Direct infusion can provide immediate delivery of these nutrients to muscle cells.
3. Immune support
Physical exertions, especially intense ones, can temporarily suppress the immune system, making athletes more susceptible to illnesses.
Some types of IV therapy include vitamin C, zinc, and other compounds known to support immune function. The idea is that these procedures can support the immune system during vulnerable periods.
The body accumulates waste and toxins, resulting from both metabolic processes and external sources.
While not entirely scientifically proven, it’s practically established that IV therapy might contribute to the more effective elimination of toxins from the body (dependent on individual body characteristics).
5. Reducing oxidative stress
Physical exercises produce free radicals, which can cause oxidative stress and potentially damage cells.
It is believed that IV therapy, delivering powerful antioxidants like glutathione directly to the bloodstream, can counteract oxidative stress more effectively than oral supplements.
Do professional athletes use IV Therapy?
- NFL Teams. One survey showed that 75% (24 out of 32) of teams used intravenous fluid infusion for prehydration. The most common reason was the prevention of muscle cramps (23 out of 24 teams). Among teams that administered fluids intravenously before competitions, an average of 5 to 7 athletes received intravenous infusions.
- NBA Players. Media mentions that NBA players might use IV drips for hydration, especially during intense playoff series. Specific names and the frequency of these procedures are typically not disclosed. However, it’s known, for instance, that in 2015, Cavaliers’ Guard Matthew Dellavedova received intravenous treatment for cramps. This helped him recover in the shortest possible time and continue competing in the NBA finals.
- UFC Fighters. Before the introduction of restrictions, some UFC fighters used IV drips for rehydration after cutting weight. News about the use of IV still emerges today. For example, after the UFC 284 tournament, lightweight champion Islam Makhachev was accused by fellow lightweight Dan Hooker of using intravenous (IV) therapy for rehydration after weighing in for his main title fight against Alexander Volkanovski in Perth, Australia.
IV Therapy for Athletes
Let’s look at what vitamins are included in the athletic performance IV infusion.
1. Vitamin C
Role. An antioxidant that protects the body’s cells from damage.
Benefit. Promotes collagen production (important for bones, cartilage, skin, and tendons), helps in the absorption of iron, and can reduce the duration of colds, which can be useful for athletes during intense training stages.
Role. A group of vitamins involved in energy production, DNA synthesis, and repair.
Benefit. Helps convert food into energy, aids in the formation of red blood cells, and supports the brain’s normal function. Proper energy metabolism can enhance athletic performance and recovery.
Role. Essential for nerve function, DNA formation, and red blood cells.
Benefit. It can boost mood and energy levels, potentially increasing workout intensity and focus.
Role. Supports muscle and nerve function, energy production, and bone health.
Benefit. It can help reduce muscle cramps, improve post-workout recovery, and maintain regular heartbeat during intense workouts.
Role. Important for the immune system, protein synthesis, and DNA formation.
Benefit. Assists in injury recovery, boosts the immune system (reducing the risk of illness during heavy training), and supports optimal testosterone levels.
Role. Typically refers to a combination of three amino acids: L-arginine, L-ornithine, and L-lysine.
Benefit. Supports hormone balance, aids in muscle recovery, and might improve blood flow during workouts.
Role. An amino acid that promotes neurological development and regulates water and mineral salt content in the blood.
Benefit. May improve workout performance by reducing fatigue and muscle damage.
Role. Plays a part in many bodily processes, including hormone secretion, immune function, and ammonia removal.
Benefit. It might increase nitric oxide production, leading to improved blood flow and potentially better workout performance.
Role. An amino acid involved in protein production.
Benefit. Supports collagen production (important for joint and tendon health). May improve sleep quality, aiding recovery.”
Therapy for muscle recovery - Alternatives to IV
The procedures presented below can serve not only as alternatives but also as complements to IV Therapy, providing a holistic approach to muscle recovery.
Cold treatment (cryotherapy) can help reduce inflammation and muscle pain. Cold constricts blood vessels and reduces metabolic activity, which decreases swelling and tissue damage.
Full body Red Light Therapy enhances blood flow and helps muscles relax. It’s beneficial for tense and tight muscles, but heat should not be applied immediately after an injury when inflammation is pronounced.
Massage as part of HyperT Pro promotes increased circulation, helps eliminate metabolic byproducts, and relieves muscle tension.
Questions and Answers
The Myers' Cocktail IV is a mix of essential vitamins and minerals given directly through an IV drip. Created by Dr. John Myers, it commonly contains magnesium, B vitamins, and vitamin C. By bypassing the digestive system, it ensures fast and efficient absorption of these nutrients into the body. Many people turn to it to boost their immune system, increase energy, and benefit from its potential to help with various health issues.
It has been proven that intravenous therapy is an effective means of increasing performance, reducing fatigue, relieving muscle pain, and reducing inflammation.
Yes. IV drips do more than just quickly rehydrate the body; they also infuse it with essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. This combination helps support your body's recovery process.
The rules of WADA regarding IV infusions can be found in the Prohibited List, which is updated every year. According to this document, IV infusions and/or injections exceeding a total of 100 mL in a 12-hour span are banned, unless they are legitimately given during hospital stays or clinical studies.
IV therapy has very few side effects, and the benefits greatly outweigh the risks. There's a chance of bruising, infection, vitamin overdose, and vein inflammation. However, seeking treatment from an experienced specialist can mitigate these risks.