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11-03-2009, 06:01 AM
Ward & Holmes: Rare air
By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times

Tuesday November 3, 2009 12:10 AM

Times photo by LUCY SCHALY Steelers beat the Vikings Sunday-Santonio Holmes gets touchtown, but it is called back on a penalty.

PITTSBURGH — For as long as he’s been with the Steelers, Santonio Holmes has been soaking in whatever advice Hines Ward gives him — even when it comes to sleeping in a strange contraption.

Ward, the Steelers’ all-time leading receiver, is an advocate of hyperbaric therapy. That’s why he owns and regularly uses a hyperbaric chamber.

“I call it my fountain of youth,” said Ward, a 33-year-old veteran who’s in his 12th pro season.

Holmes is only 25, but he, too, owns a portable chamber.

“It’s the same exact one Hines has,” Holmes said.

Hyperbaric therapy is the medical use of oxygen at a higher level than normal atmospheric pressure. Advocates claim that it enhances athletic performance, speeds up recovery time from injuries, relieves fatigue, and, even as Ward suggested, has anti-aging benefits.

While the use of hyperbaric chambers isn’t widespread, a number of famous athletes past and present have owned or do own one now. They include former Penguins star and owner Mario Lemieux, current Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins and former heavyweight boxing champ Evander Holyfield.

NFL players such as New Orleans Saints safety Darren Sharper, Buffalo Bills wide receiver Terrell Owens and Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook are also believers in hyperbaric therapy.
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“They’re very expensive, but my body is my investment,” Ward said. “It’s a well-worth-it investment.”

A portable hyperbaric chamber — a tube-shaped device that’s roughly 93 inches long, 32 inches wide and 22 inches in diameter — can cost between $10,000 and $20,000.

“Just to help heal up the body throughout the year,” Holmes said when asked why he believes in hyperbaric therapy. “The massages can’t take care of everything … the ice and stim (electronic stimulation) can’t take care of everything … so I figure the extra oxygen can help heal the bruised areas a lot faster.”

“Santonio, he’s young. But at an early age, I really tried to stress to him to take care of his body,” Ward said. “When you get those little bruises and nicks during the season, take care of them … so he purchased one.”

With the Steelers playing their next game in Denver, Ward and Holmes are also using their hyperbaric chambers to help them get used to the rarified Rocky Mountain air.

“I’ll be in it every day this week,” Ward said.

“I’ll definitely spend the rest of this week sleeping in it and spending a little time in it,” added Holmes.