Frontiers in Respiratory Muscle Training in Health and Disease

The ‘Frontiers in Respiratory Muscle Training in Health and Disease’ was one of a series of free research seminars launched by The Centre for Sports Medicine & Human Performance, and it took place on Tuesday 30th April.

Professor Alison McConnell provided an overview of the history of IMT, the “state of the art”, as well as the rationale for each of three putative mechanisms for the well-established ergogenic effect of IMT. These mechanisms were expanded and developed by three other speakers, Dr Lee Romer, Dr Emma Ross and King’s College Hospital physician, Dr Caroline Jolley.

Dr Romer described the high metabolic cost of respiratory muscle work in highly trained individuals, the conditions under which exercise-induced fatigue of the inspiratory and expiratory muscles arises, and its implications for exercise tolerance. Dr Romer then reviewed the evidence that feedback from respiratory muscle afferents can exacerbate locomotor muscle contractile fatigue and impair performance.

Dr Emma Ross provided insights into another role for muscle afferent feedback, viz., its role in central fatigue which included consideration of the potential role of respiratory muscle afferents in central fatigue as part of an “ensemble” of feedback that serves to maintain and optimise exercise performance.

Dr Caroline Jolley explained the role of respiratory muscle function in the perception of breathing effort and focused on patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). A neurophysiological model of breathlessness was presented in which disordered lung mechanics and diaphragm weakness lead to an uncoupling of inspiratory pressure generation and ventilation to create a state of “neuromechanical dissociation” and efferent-afferent mismatch. Dr Jolley finished her presentation by considering whether IMT might ameliorate this mismatch.

The whole seminar finished off with a “question and answer” session.

Here’s a video of the lecture given by Professor Alison McConnell discussing the research behind and putative mechanisms for inspiratory muscle training.

Watch all four presentations on the Centre for Sports Medicine & Human Performance YouTube channel.


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