Muscle and tendon strains (MTS) are often accompanied by subsequent tissue hypoxia and overproduction of reactive oxygen species; this may aggravate the initial cellular damage caused by the actual mechanism of injury. Molecular hydrogen (H2) seems to be beneficial for treating ischemia-reperfusion injury, oxidative stress, and inflammation in human diseases; however, the effects of H2 as an element of acute management of musculotendinous injuries are unclear. PURPOSE: To examine the effects of one-week oral and topical H2 administration on markers of inflammation, functional recovery and pain intensity in competitive male athletes after acute MTS. METHODS: During the 2013 competitive season (from March to May) participants (12 professional athletes) were recruited and examined by a certified sports medicine specialist in the first 24 hours after a MTS was sustained. The subjects were allocated in a double-blind design to two randomly assigned trials: control group (CON) received a traditional treatment protocol after the soft-tissue injury (first 48 h: rest, ice packs for 20 min every 2 h, compression with elastic bandage, elevation of the injured area above the level of the heart at all possible times; next 5 days: passive stretching 3 times per day for 90 sec, isometric strength exercise with 3 sets with 15 reps, 30 min of pain-free weight-bearing exercise); experimental group (HYD) followed the above procedures with additional administration of oral H2 tablets (2 g/day) and topical hydrogen-rich packs (6 times per day for 20 min). Participants were evaluated at the time of the injury report and 7 days after baseline testing. RESULTS: HYD intervention augmented the decrease in plasma viscosity as compared to the CON (20.7 ± 2.4 vs. 15.4 ± 1.9%; p = 0.002). Limb swelling was reduced in both groups at post-intervention, with the decline in limb circumference significantly higher in the HYD (8.0 ± 1.6 vs. 6.2 ± 0.7%; p = 0.04). CONCLUSION: The addition of oral and topical molecular hydrogen to traditional first-line treatment is effective in the management of musculotendinous injuries in athletes.
Background: Because hydrogen therapy has been found beneficial for the treatment of inflammation, ischemia-reperfusion injury, and oxidative stress in humans, it seems useful to evaluate the effects of exogenously administered hydrogen as an element in the immediate management of sports-related soft tissue injuries. The main aim of this pilot study was to examine the effects of 2-week administration of hydrogen on the biochemical markers of inflammation and functional recovery in male professional athletes after acute soft tissue injury. Method: During the 2013 season (from March to May), 36 professional athletes were recruited as participants and examined by a certified sports medicine specialist in the first 24 hours after an injury was sustained. Subjects were allocated to 3 randomly assigned trials in a single-blind design. Those in the control group received a traditional treatment protocol for soft tissue injury. Subjects in the first experimental group followed the same procedures as the control group but with additional administration throughout the study of oral hydrogen-rich tablets (2 g per day). Subjects in the second experimental group also followed the procedures of the control group, with additional administration throughout the study of both oral hydrogen-rich tablets (2 g per day) and topical hydrogen-rich packs (6 times per day for 20 minutes). Participants were evaluated at the time of the injury report and at 7 and 14 days after baseline testing. Results: Oral and topical hydrogen intervention was found to augment plasma viscosity decrease as compared with the control group (P = 0.04). Differences were found for range-of-motion recovery between the 3 groups; oral and topical hydrogen intervention resulted in a faster return to normal joint range of motion for both flexion and extension of the injured limb as compared with the control intervention (P < 0.05). Conclusion: These preliminary results support the hypothesis that the addition of hydrogen to traditional treatment protocols is potentially effective in the treatment of soft tissue injuries in male professional athletes. Trial identification: Clinicaltrials.gov number NCT01759498.