Jonathan Thomas and Ian Evans are undergoing a new form of treatment.
Ospreys players Ian Evans and Jonathan Thomas are currently taking part in a trial of a new therapy treatment that aims to improve performance and recovery times.
The duo have joined elite Welsh cyclists David Crowley and James Lewis, along with footballers from Neath AFC, to trial the Just Breathe system at the Ospreys Llandarcy training base over the next three weeks.
Already utilised by Everton FC and Super League side Salford City Reds, Just Breathe is a fully automated altitude simulation system, which ultimately aims to make your body more efficient as Lyndsey Jones of Hypoxi Therapy Wales, who is carrying out the trials, explains: "Just Breathe reduces the oxygen available in the air in a safe and controlled environment, forcing the body to react and adapt to the lower level of oxygen available.
"By breathing less oxygen the body learns how to cope and subtle physiological changes occur. Using Just Breathe, you alternate between breathing reduced oxygen air and normal air, and it's this interval in the breathing programme that speeds up the adaptation process. Your body is forced to learn how to react to less oxygen and then re-adapt to its normal oxygen content in a short period of time, which educates your body to use your oxygen supply more efficiently. This process results in your body conserving precious oxygen in reserve so that when you need it most, your body won't let you down.
"As the levels of oxygen in the blood reduces, the change is detected by receptors in the brain which sends signals to your kidneys to produce a natural hormone called erythropoietin (EPO), and this is then delivered via blood to your bone marrow. Your bone marrow EPO stimulates the production of new blood cells, which take 10 days to mature. Having increased red blood cells enables oxygen to be transported around the body more efficiently as these cells carry oxygen to your organs."
Just Breathe works on a three week cycle, with participants spending one hour a day using the system for five days, taking two days off before continuing for five more. Every six to eight weeks, a five day top-up is required to maintain the benefits gained from altitude. To fully assess the success of the treatment, a series of standard fitness, aerobic power, V02 max and lactate level tests are carried before and after the cycle and compared to the results displayed by someone not undergoing the treatment.
Andrew Hore, Ospreys Elite Performance Director commented: "We are a forward thinking organisation that wishes to be at the forefront of new technology and ideas where we believe it may have a positive impact on performance on the pitch. We have been approached to take part in this trial, the benefits of which to us could be huge if it delivers the results that have been outlined. With Jonathan and Ian currently going through rehab ahead of the new season they are the ideal candidates to take part and we are looking forward to seeing how it goes."
Some of the many benefits of altitude training are:
* Improved speed and increased power
* Improved stamina and endurance
* Improved lung function
* Improved clearance and buffering of lactate
* Improved aerobic and anaerobic conditioning
* Reduced recovery times and fatigue
* Improved breathing control
* Maintenance of fitness during injury periods
* Improved recovery times of operations
* Reduce exercise and resting heart rate
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.