WHICH MASK TO USE FOR SPORT ACTIVITIES?
There are two types of masks for sport. Those which serve to protect against the Covid 19 while allowing good ventilation and those which on the contrary reduce ventilation with the aim of muscling its rib cage and thus improving its pulmonary capacities commonly called the effort masks, elevation masks or altitude masks.
Sport masks protecting against Covid
The subject has excited the world of sport all winter because a protective mask against Covid19, allowing breathing during intense effort, was perhaps going to be THE solution allowing the reopening of sports clubs and fitness centres that had been closed for months.
The French Ministry of Sports, the professional unions and the main French manufacturers met with the AFNOR (French Association for Standardization) in order to define the Afnor S70-001 standard allowing to combine protection and breathability during exercise.
After a small war of press releases, Decathlon announcing to be the creator of the sport mask, it is finally Salomon which released mid-March 2021 the first outdoor sport mask and the small Vosges company CeramiQ, the first indoor sport mask on March 25. The latter has been certified as retaining a filtration rate of 96% after 50 washes. "The CeramiQ sports mask has excellent breathability measurements with a rate of 476 litres per m2 per second (the Afnor specification requires a minimum of 300 litres for high intensity)," says Thierry Heim, its CEO.
In addition to the filtering and breathable material, the solution lies in the shells that create a space between the mouth and the mask to avoid contact and the sensation of suffocation.
These masks only filter up to 3µm, so they are not considered to be anti-pollution masks like the Frogmask that filter up to 0.4µm.
Training or altitude masks
These masks, which cover the nose and mouth, have several adjustable valves so that the amount of air inhaled can be varied. According to some manufacturers, they can be used to simulate mountain or even high mountain altitudes.
Why do they do this? The higher you are, the more oxygen becomes scarce, which reduces the oxygenation of the blood: this is called hypoxia. The human body's reaction is to increase the quantity of red blood cells in the blood. Since red blood cells transport oxygen to the muscles, this will promote endurance and improve our performance through better oxygenation.
According to these manufacturers, these masks would improve performance in endurance sports or combat sports such as boxing or MMA by increasing maximum oxygen consumption (VO2max) and lung capacity.
This American study shows that although it is certain that they can in no way improve the production of red blood cells, which can only be obtained during training at altitude, these masks seem to be interesting for varying the training and strengthening the respiratory muscles by making them more enduring.
Be careful, as you have understood, these masks do not filter anything and do not protect against covid or pollution.