Health and fitness

Dr. Flynn’s Mailbag: An altitude advantage for Pats? Who returns first: Hogan, Mitchell or Slater? Hayward timeline

(Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports)

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We’ll get into why hamstrings the potential returns of Malcolm Mitchell, Chris Hogan and Matthew Slater, plus follow-ups on Martellus Bennett and Gordon Hayward, but we’ll start with whether or not the Patriots might have acquired an advantage over the Raiders by staying in Colorado for the week.

Do we have an advantage over OAK by training this week and a bit of last week at altitude? (The Wolf, @Captmike24)

Hi, The Wolf! The answer to your question is a strong maybe.

The Patriots will have been staying at altitude for a total of 10 days prior to gamely at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City on Sunday. Their training became at 5,280 feet above sea level in Denver and then the team traveled to Colorado Springs to train at 7,258 feet at the Air Force Academy the remainder of the week.

It was no surprise to me that Bill Belichick seized the opportunity to get a competitive edge by buying his team some time to acclimate to high-altitude conditions. The act of the human body getting used to higher elevations is called “altitude acclimatization.” The basic concept is that the air pressure (not oxygen concentration) is much lower at high altitude than at sea level. Because of this, it’s much harder for the body to absorb and distribute oxygen to the muscles during exercise.

Within a few hours of acclimatization, the body is already trying to fix the situation. One of the immediate responses is