The winter season in Courchevel is on its final approach. We are all on our way to the final descent to the french alps. Some of you are already there, some of us including me are still away in our summer shack. In my case i m spending most of my summer time by the ocean at sea level. Meaning i m breathing air at sea level.
From my previous winter seasons experiences in Courchevel, i have to say that i develop the same symptoms over and over at the beginning of my stay due to altitude change. I would say that the first 10 days are not the most pleasant, my sleep patern is not great, i m always thirsty, walking around and do exercice is complicated by a poor ventilation. And i have a general feeling of tiredness. slowly it all vanish after this 10 days, when the winter season ends in Courchevel and i m back to my loved ocean, it is the opposite ! I m highly energetic, i can say that my performances are excellent. I often heard on the radio news that soccer teams, athletes are often up in our mountains to train. So why ? And why all this symptoms ? I have this client from russia who's booking me every morning at 7:30 for a sport massage, he is quite sporty and he was telling me about his physical symptoms which were the same as me. Sports massage is helping him a lot he says. Well, we all need to aclimate to altitude and it's a form as well of natural doping, altitude is a way to improve your performance when going back to sea level.
Athletes are calling it Altitude Training, it can be done in mountains, but it can be done as well in a special designed chamber simulating altitude ! We need oxygen to survive, at sea level pressure of air is the highest on the planet because we got a big amount of gazes above our head. Oxygen molecules are compressed and it's easy for our body to get it. Oxygen is transported in our body to vital organs and muscles via red blood cell, the chemestry is quite simple, 4 atoms of carbon are holding an atom of iron. This atom of iron gets oxydized capturing oxygen, the all system looks like an umbrella closing itself to capture oxygen and opening to deliver oxygen. When we experience altitude the air is thinner, and the perssure is less, expeciqlly the oxygen partial pressure. It is difficult then for us to supply correctly our body with this vital oxygen. As the oxygen is difficult to get, moving around is complicated, we are short of breath, we need to hyper ventilate, the acid-base balance is distrubed, hypoxia symptoms start to rise as we gain altitude, headachs, bad sleep, hallucination can occur. The physiological response is quite fast, our body produces EPO, yes ! That EPO used for doping in the cycle world. The lack of oxygen triggers the production of erytrhoprotein wich triggers an increase of mass production of red blood cells (RBC, our oxygen carrier). The production of RBC starts 48 hours after being exposed to altitude, 10 to 14 days after the level of RBC is optimum, 3 to 4 weeks after the body is fully aclimated to altitude, even 9 months after it can still rise. An extra intake of iron helps a lot, so make sure when you come to Courchevel to get some (lentills, red meat).
That make sens for me, this 10 days of discomfort at arrival in Courchevel ski resort.
As the season passes my body and my blood are adaptated to 2000 meters altitude, as i m going back to sea level my blood is the same but altitude changes. That's why i am feeling this extra kick for 2 weeks, my muscles, my organs are fueled by a 2000 meters adaptated blood but i m breathing sea level air. Performance are increasing dramaticaly, aerobic performance peaks, and fatigue resistance is at its maximum. You guess it ! it's a great way for athletes to improve their performances before a competition. It often gives this extra boost for the gold medal instead of the bronze one. For all my clients in Courchevel who are booking sport massage, osteoptahy or physio be patient and listen to your body, having a suplement of iron before you come to Courchevel is a good idea, and if you can afford stay more than 10 days in the resort, you will amazing after back home. Don't forget to book your sessions with me before coming, sport massage, osteopathy and physio right in the comfort of your chalet.