POWERbreathe were invited to meet up with EIS (English Institute of Sport) Boccia team physios, Dawn Ibrahim from EIS Sheffield and Bob Smith (Conditioning consultant coach) from Loughborough along with one of their players, Nigel Murray MBE, at Nigel’s local gym, Nuffield Fitness & Wellbeing Centre in Warwick.
The purpose of the meeting was to allow British Paralympic athlete Nigel to test out the POWERbreathe K5 with Breathe-Link software. Nigel is a seven times national champion and triple Paralympic medal winner in the sport of Boccia.
Boccia, like bowls, is a highly tactical and very accurate target ball sport and although originally created for people with cerebral palsy, is now played by athletes with severe disabilities that affect their motor skills. It can be played by individuals, pairs or teams of three. To be eligible to compete at this top level, athletes must be in a wheelchair, as a result of cerebral palsy, or another neurological condition that has similar effects, such as muscular dystrophy or traumatic brain injury.
The aim of Boccia is to throw leather balls as close to a target ball, or jack, as possible, using hands, feet or sometimes an assisted device. At the end of each round the distance from the balls to the jack is measured and points awarded accordingly with the winner being the player with the highest number of points.
Because athletes are in a wheelchair while playing this sport, breathing can be an added challenge. When part of the body is misaligned, through injury or other conditions, a whole host of problems can arise for someone who’s seated all day, including improper breathing and imbalance. When the main trunk of an athlete’s body is balanced, they can reach to play without losing balance and they’re able to propel their wheelchair efficiently. Poor posture in the wheelchair, such as rounded shoulders and back, will also interfere with looking up, reaching, breathing and digestion, so a strong trunk/core and good posture can all help to improve breathing.
POWERbreathe can not only help improve breathing in wheelchair athletes, but it can also help improve their core trunk strength and posture – all of which can help these Boccia athletes improve their performance. Deep breathing training with POWERbreathe will help to fully inflate the lungs and puts the respiratory muscles and chest wall through a good range of movement and allows the rib cage to expand optimally.
So we can understand why the GB Olympic Boccia Team Physios started looking into POWERbreathe, and we’re delighted to be providing POWERbreathe training to the team at their next meeting.