Para-Cyclist Leon Selva and POWERbreathe

We recently met up with para-cyclist Leon Selva at his home earlier in November. Leon is training hard with the intention of competing in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Para-cyclist Leon

As a result of a terrible accident and with a positive frame of mind, Leon decided to start his career as a para-cyclist. Leon became badly injured in a car crash. His lung collapsed and the right side of his body is severely damaged. As a result Leon gets around with the aid of a crutch. But not one to let that get in the way, Leon is setting his sights on the Tokyo Paralympic Games in 2020. His ambition is clear to see.

Leon’s cycle training

Leon has a coach to help with his training. His coach also trains with Leon at the National Cycling Centre in Manchester. And his father is responsible for converting a former bedroom into a training room. This room is kitted out with an elliptical, Wattbike and various other pieces of gym equipment. His bike has a special crank bottom bracket that allows both cranks to work independently as he can generate more power from his uninjured side.

Leon’s initial POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT)

After Leon’s recovery from his collapsed lung, he began using the POWERbreathe Plus HR. He uses this to strengthen the muscles he uses to breathe. These are his diaphragm and his intercostal muscles. The diaphragm is the main muscle that is used for breathing. The intercostals are muscles that are located between the ribs.

The POWERbreathe Plus HR is not the most suitable model for Leon. It is the highest resistance model in the Plus series. It is designed only for people who have reached the top of the MR (medium resistance) model. Leon finds it quite hard going and so isn’t using it effectively.

Leon’s current POWERbreathe IMT

Realising Leon was struggling with the Plus HR, his father started looking for a more suitable alternative. And so he bought Leon the POWERbreathe K5 with Breathe-Link Live Feedback Software. The K5 offers Leon a more tapered loading resistance. This will match the contraction curve of his own breathing muscles throughout his entire breath. And it’s this that makes it easier for Leon to use. As a result it’s more beneficial. Leon will no longer struggle with the resistance as the K5 does everything for him.

Leon on the POWERbreathe K5

Upon arrival we set up the K5 and Breathe-Link Live Feedback Software for Leon. Leon then starts to train with it immediately. And thanks to the live feedback software it's clear that Leon's initial in-breaths are very weak and uncoordinated. So over a period of 90 breaths, and as Leon looked at his live breathing on screen, we corrected his breathing technique. After a short while Leon shows how to get the most from his diaphragm and his breathing improves tremendously.

Leon was so pleased with his training, he exclaimed, “Dad, this is the best investment you have ever made, my improvement is amazing, it’s epic.” You can see this wonderful reaction in our YouTube video.

Because of this encouraging endorsement, Leon’s father and coach performed a number of breaths on the K5 too. They did this so that they could experience this training for themselves. They are now also able to offer advice and encouragement as Leon continues to train his breathing.

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