What is Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT)
Inspiratory muscle training is defined as a course of therapy consisting of a series of breathing exercises that aim to strengthen the bodies’ respiratory muscles making it easier for people to breathe. Inspiratory muscle training is normally aimed at people who suffer from asthma, bronchitis, emphysema and COPD. However, many people adopt IMT as part of their sports training as this training is designed to strengthen the muscles used for breathing. This is done through a series of controlled breathing exercises. Studies have shown that regular IMT can increase a person’s endurance during cardiovascular exercise or sports activities such as running and cycling.
When a person is breathing normally, they typically use between 10 to 15 per cent of his or her total lung capacity. However, with Inspiratory muscle training, a person can typically increase the amount of lung capacity used. Deeper breathing uses a bit more energy but also allows more oxygen to enter the bloodstream with each breath while strengthening the breathing muscles. Strengthening inspiratory muscles by performing daily breathing exercises for at least six weeks significantly reduces the amount of oxygen these same breathing muscles require during exercise, resulting in more oxygen being available for other muscles.
Why train the respiratory muscles
The respiratory muscles need to be trained because during exercise the body’s demand for oxygen increases and our breathing volume or ventilation must also rise to cope with the oxygen increase. For this to work numerous muscles surrounding the lungs need to contract in an exceedingly coordinated manner. As the intensity of the exercise increases, these respiratory muscles must contract more forcefully and more rapidly to keep pace with the body’s substantial increase in metabolism. This important role of the inspiratory muscle training has huge benefits for respiratory muscles, fitness and sports training as well as to help improve running performance.