History of POWERbreathe
Professor Alison McConnell is Professor of Applied Physiology at Brunel University's Centre for Sports Medicine & Human Performance. She holds degrees from the Universities of London and Birmingham, is a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine, and has published extensively on the subject of breathing and exercise.
Many years ago, Professor McConnell recognised that breathing not only presents a limitation to exercise tolerance in patients with respiratory illness, it also limits healthy people, including athletes. The pioneering research undertaken by her group has moved research on breathing and exercise into the mainstream of sport science. Here's Professor McConnell's take on the important role that breathing plays in exercise performance.
“For many years I accepted this received wisdom held by all sport scientists that breathing doesn't limit exercise performance. But it always troubled me, and I began to wonder why phrases like ‘I stopped to catch my breath’, or ‘I'm taking a breather’ came into being if they don't indicate that breathing limits us? As a former competitive rower I also knew, all too well, how the suffocating sensation of 'lung burn' can overwhelm all other sensations of effort to the point where you simply have to back off. Then I began to think ‘outside the box’; I considered breathing ‘mechanically’, as process brought about by muscles, not as one that simply supplied oxygen at no cost to the rest of the body. Once I did this, I quickly came to a very simple conclusion - of course breathing presents a limitation to our ability to exercise, and it does so for each and every one of us.
The demands placed upon the breathing muscles to pump air in and out of our lungs can be enormous; so strenuous in fact that we have measured fatigue of the inspiratory muscles after simulated competitions ranging in duration from 3 to 60 minutes (Lomax and McConnell, 2003; Volianitis et al, 2001; Romer et al, 2002). Inspiratory muscle fatigue has both sensory and metabolic repercussions, both of which impair performance.
The good news is that the inspiratory muscles respond to training in the same way as other muscles - if you subject them to an appropriate training stimulus, they will adapt, increasing their strength, power and endurance (Romer & McConnell, 2003). Whilst the underlying physiological mechanisms may differ, the exercise-related benefits of this training appear to be universal, applying to world-class athletes as much as they do frail elderly patients with severe emphysema.”
The training device, that was initially conceived as a research tool, was modified and manufactured so that everyone could enjoy the benefits of better breathing, and it became known as POWERbreathe.
In 1998, the POWERbreathe was awarded the prestigious Millennium Mark by the Design Council of Great Britain and was featured at two sites within the Millennium Experience (within the "Pharmacy of the Future" within the Body Zone, as well as within the special Millennium Products Exhibition in the "Spiral of Innovation"). In April 1998 POWERbreathe was also featured on the BBC´s Tomorrow´s World programme.
In 2000 all rights to the POWERbreathe were purchased by HaB International Limited and POWERbreathe entered the next phase of its development.
The POWERbreathe Classic series was the 1st generation of POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training products (breathing training) to have been developed, and was awarded a Millennium Product by UK Design Council.
Three models were created specifically for Wellness (Light Resistance), Fitness (Medium Resistance) and Sports Performance (Heavy Resistance). Each model featured manually adjustable training levels to allow for progressive training.
The POWERbreathe Plus series was the 2nd generation of POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training products (breathing training) to be developed. As a result of new research and the latest developments in technology, the POWERbreathe Plus series featured a new hi-tech design, optimised airflow performance, anti-bacterial qualities and other design developments.
Also in 2006, after signing a multi-year License Agreement with the World Triathlon Corporation, the special edition, officially licensed and branded POWERbreathe Plus Ironman and Iron Girl models were created. These special edition models of the POWERbreathe Plus also include a bonus inspirational Ironman DVD.
The three levels of resistance developed in 2001 were retained, creating three models in the POWERbreathe Plus series and three models in each of the POWERbreathe Ironman Plus and POWERbreathe Iron Girl Plus series: Light Resistance (Wellness); Medium Resistance (Fitness); Heavy Resistance (Sports Performance). Each model featured manually adjustable training levels to allow for progressive training.
In March 2006, the POWERbreathe Medic model was approved for prescription in the UK, offering an evidence-based, drug-free treatment for patients with dyspnoea, especially those with asthma, COPD and heart failure.
In 2009, a new training stimulus that combines POWERbreathe inspiratory muscle training with total-body workouts was developed: ActiBreathe™. This unique combination brings added benefits to breathing and exercise training, developing tone and fitness and charging your body with the power of breathing.
2010 saw the launch of the new POWERbreathe K-Series. The POWERbreathe K-Series' models K1, K2, K3 and teh KH1 for the healthcare market. The POWERbreathe K-Series is the 3rd generation of POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training products, and the world’s first intelligent breathing training and monitoring system. The POWERbreathe K-Series series uses patented Auto-Optimising Technology to automatically adapt to increases in inspiratory muscle strength. Training results, progress and respiratory measurements are displayed continuously on an LCD screen.
In October 2010, the POWERbreathe K-Series was awarded the UK Plastics Industry’s most prestigious award, “2010 Consumer Product Design of the Year”.
The Plastics Industry Awards is an initiative that recognises, celebrates and encourages achievement throughout the UK plastics industry and offers an insight into current developments in materials usage, product design and innovative manufacturing, as well as identifying excellence in training and environmental performance. Entries for the 2010 awards came from all sectors of the industry and highlighted a wide range of novel solutions.
The recognition of the POWERbreathe K-Series for the Quality of Design and Product Innovation follows in the footsteps of previous recognition of POWERbreathe products by peer leaders and independent experts, notably the POWERbreathe Classic which was recognised by the UK Design Council and named a “Millennium Product” in 2001.
2011 saw the biggest attendance to the POWERbreathe International Distributors meeting here in Warwickshire, with 21 countries attending from as far afield as Australia, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Brazil and Russia. Not only were there many practical sessions and demonstrations, but each country contributed to the meeting with stories of how POWERbreathe has helped people in their own countries. And to bring all these people together we launched our Social Media campaign so that we could all talk to each other via the POWERbreathe Official Facebook page and the POWERbreathe Official Twitter page. We now have many dedicated followers, many new to POWERbreathe and many more already familiar with POWERbreathe who are only too happy to share their amazing stories.
2011 also sees the launch of the new K5 with Breathe-Link Software and the ultimate in breathing training technology. Users will be able to manage and store their own customised training routines and utilise specific performance testing parameters via the unique Breathe-Link software.