POWERbreathe activities in the Czech Republic

Over in the Czech Republic our POWERbreathe distributors for the Czech Republic & Slovakia (Truconnexion) had a booth at a cycling marathon event in Teplice with 450 racers on Saturday 11th August where they did demo’s with the K5 and also held a competition for the highest test score with the POWERbreathe challenge. The highest score was 184 cmH2O for the men and 93 cmH2O for the women. Please see pictures attached.

Also these guys did a promotion with the Eurosport channel throughout the Olympics where someone had the chance to win a POWERbreathe Plus every day for answering the questions correctly.

Check out their website

Please feel free to leave a comment below.

Exercises for COPD

copd-sphereCOPD is the short definitions for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. In the United States alone COPD is the fourth leading cause of death.  This respiratory illness is primarily caused by smoking, genetics, air pollution and asthma. Secondary smoke and respiratory infections can also occur in COPD.  This disease affects your quality of life as it makes breathing incredibly difficult. However, a regular exercise program can help you manage the disease better as well as increase the quality of life.

Importance of Exercise

Pulmonary rehabilitation and exercise go hand in hand as it improves the overall strength and endurance of the respiratory muscles. during exercise the muscles in the body learn to use oxygen more efficiently which means the lungs don’t have to work so hard.  Another benefit of exercise is that it boosts mental health and help you maintain a healthy lifestyle – healthy weight and blood pressure. exercise also improves blood circulation round your body which helps with your breathing

Begin an Exercise Routine

Anyone who is a COPD sufferer should practice two types of exercise – regular aerobic exercise for general strength and conditioning and exercises to help control and manage breathing. However, it is imperative you talk to your GP before undertaking any form of exercise program. Always start off slow and rest immediately if you experience shortness of breath, chest pain or feel dizzy.

Exercises to Control Breathing

Pursed lip and diaphragmatic breathing help improve your airflow and decrease shortness of breath. Pursed lip exercises are done by breathing in through your nose, pursing your lips as though you’re going to whistle, and then exhaling slowing through your mouth. It should take you 2-4 times longer to exhale than it took to inhale. Separating the chest from the abdomen, the diaphragm muscle is essential for breathing. Learning to properly use and strengthen this muscle can be accomplished by following this exercise: Lay down, put one hand on your abdomen and the other on your chest, and inhale through your nose while concentrating on making your stomach move while keeping your chest still. Then exhale through pursed lips, letting your stomach fall inward while continuing to keep the upper chest as still as possible. Regular exercise can help aid you in your COPD treatment and make your quality of life better.

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Deep Breathing Exercises for Intercostal Muscles & the Diaphragm

Deep breathing exercises are often referred to as pranayama in yoga, an ancient system of holistic health. Regular practice of deep breathing exercises can help tone the intercostal muscles, a group of muscles that form the chest wall, and the diaphragm, a thin muscle located under the lungs.

Deep Chest Breathing

Deep chest breathing requires two yoga blocks. You need to sit on the floor and place the blocks behind you – one in a flat position and the other at the medium position. You need to lay your shoulder blades on the flat block and your head on the other. Then relax your arms out to each side with palms faced upwards. Next, you need to stretch your legs out in front of you. Inhale deeply and allow your chest to completely rise. On the exhale, allow your stomach to fall first, then your diaphragm, then your lungs and finally your chest. Repeat this exercise nine times with a regular breath in-between each repetition. Deep chest breathing tones both the diaphragm and the intercostal muscles.

Bellow’s Breath

Bellow’s breath is a detoxifying breathing exercise which is good for the diaphragm muscle. To carry out this exercise you need to be in a seated position. Once comfortable, you need to inhale naturally through your nose. On the exhale you need to snap your stomach muscles in, forcing the exhalation. While in a seated position, inhale naturally through your nose. On the exhale, snap your stomach muscles in, forcing the exhalation. Repeat this breathing pattern for 30 seconds, gradually increasing the pace.

Intercostal Stretching Breath

To perform an intercostal stretching breath, come to a standing position and stretch both of your arms over the head. Inhale deeply and on the exhale, stretch your arms to the right, stretching your intercostal muscles on the left side of your body. Inhale and come back to the centre; on the next exhale, stretch your arms to the left, feeling your right intercostal muscles being stretched. Repeat two more times on each side.

Focused Diaphragmatic Breath

To perform focused diaphragmatic breath, it is helpful to understand exactly where your diaphragm is. Take your fingers and place them on the bottom of your sternum. Take a few breaths and feel your diaphragm move. To perform this breathing exercise, tense your stomach muscles and keep your fingers on your diaphragm. Inhale and exhale several times, focusing on the diaphragm’s movement. This exercise can help increase awareness of and tone the diaphragm.

Regular inspiratory muscle training can strengthen and condition the core vital muscle required to help us breathe each day.  As with any muscle training always consult your GP for advice.

Breathing exercises that can help with COPD treatment

What-is-COPDChronic obstructive pulmonary disease also known as COPD is the term that is given to a group of lung diseases. these lung diseases block your airflow as you exhale, making it very difficult for you to breathe.  Practising regular breathing exercises can help you cope with COPD and also aid your COPD treatment.  Worldwide COPD is a major cause of death.

Relax and breathe

If you have COPD then the most effective way to overcome breathlessness is to relax and breathe. Find a quiet spot and lay down in a comfortable position completely focus on your breathing.  With each breathe that you take you should try and slow down the pace and relax your body each more and more.  Eventually you will be able to control your breath. Anytime you are feeling breathless you should use this technique.

Counting Breath

Try counting silently in your head while breathing. Doing this automatically slows and relaxes the breathing. To start with count to two on your inhale and two on your exhale. Then gradually increase to three then four. Become comfortable with counting to four on your inhales and exhales before you take the next step and increase exhales to a count of five while keeping the inhales to a count of four. Eventually you want to increase your exhales to a count of six.

Ujjayi Pranayama

Ujjayi pranayama can be performed while laying flat on your back or with your head and chest slightly elevated. It is important that you get the correct position and that your head is sits higher than your chest. Always start with a few cycles of normal breathing, then inhale naturally and exhale fully keeping your chest elevated.  This should be repeated for 15-20 cycles, then you should return to your normal breathing pattern. This method of breathing helps to improve the function of the lungs.

Viloma Pranayama

Anyone who suffers from a breathing order should practice this breathing exercise. Start by inhaling three-fourths of a breath and then exhale fully. Continue this breathing pattern for a few breaths. Next, inhale only two-thirds of a breath and exhale fully. Continue this pattern for a few breaths. Go back to breathing three-fourths in and fully exhaling for a few rounds. Then slowly return to normal, relaxed breathing.

If you suffer from breathing difficulties you will know just how difficult it is to breathe. Inspiratory muscle training helps to strengthen and condition your breathing muscles. Practicing any of the above breathing methods can aid you with your COPD treatment as well as increase the quality of your life as a COPD sufferer.

 

Inspiratory muscle training for strength

Our bodies respond to exercise in a variety of ways to increase efficiency. One key factor that contributes to you exercising less is the efficiency of your respiratory health. Regular exercise can improve your fitness by strengthening these respiratory muscles as these are the muscles that aid you in breathing. Not only will regular exercise strengthen your muscles, your lungs will also change to increase your endurance and energy production.

Benefits of inspiratory muscle training

Exercising to increase the strength of your respiratory muscles is beneficiary to you as you are then able to increase your respiratory volumes. it is these volumes that measure the amount of air you can inhale and exhale, as well as the residual amount which remains in your lungs.

Target Heart Zone

Any type of respiratory muscle strength training depends on how you exercising within your target heart zone. For those of you not familiar with heart zones, this blog on the importance of heart rate monitors will help. Typically the heart rate zone is when your heart beats at 50 to 75 percent of its maximum rate.

Training

Like everything if you have been inactive with your training your muscles will not be as flexible. You need to slowly ease back into training and get your body used to the demands that you are placing on it. When coming back to training after a long period of absence you should always start at the lower end of your heart target zone. The heart and the lungs will work together to build the strength in these organs, something which will take some time and effort. Overtime you will become stronger which will mean you can increase the intensity of your workout and get back towards the higher end of your heart rate zone.

Types

Reaching this intensity will not be easy. However, to help you will need to incorporate aerobic activity into your workout. You can maintain your level of fitness by exercising at least three to five times per week. This regular pattern of exercise will also help you strengthen and condition the main large muscles of your body. These muscles will require more oxygen therefore increasing the strength that is required by the respiratory system. The correct intensity for your workout includes activity such as cycling or running.

As with any strength and conditioning exercise, inspiratory muscle training is a key ingredient. Using an inspiratory muscle trainer can help increase your performance in sports and fitness as well as help you to breathe with ease.

 

 

The POWERbreathe goes Blingtastic

POWERbreathe recently had a very special makeover. One of our partners in Germany managed to have the POWERbreathe K1 model encrusted in Diamonds.  We couldn’t believe it a diamond encrusted POWERbreathe, no longer is it plain and sober it is now known as the POWERbling breathing trainer.

The limited edition POWERbling is on show at Harrods and sources tell us a few famous fans of the bling have been to see it.  We also hear some celebs are queuing and fighting to get a glimpse of the latest blingtastic accessory.

You never know you may see Rihanna or Beyonce sporting the POWERbling.  Keep your eyes peeled……..

Steps to follow for better breathing for singers

When practising breathing techniques, using a child as a role model is perfect. They have the correct posture – head up shoulders relaxed and level and perfect alignment of hips, knees and ankles, everything required to breathe efficiently – just perfectly natural. Adults don’t have such a perfect posture – laziness, tight clothing and weariness, all resulting in us breathing less efficiently which impacts our speaking and singing.

However, it doesn’t have to be like this! Loosen that waistband, relax and follow these great steps to correct breathing.  I noticed the difference, will you?

#Good Posture

Posture is important. Practice good posture by lifting up on your toes then back down. Your shoulders should be relaxed. Lift your hands straight up over your head. Keep your chin parallel with the floor and allow your head to balance naturally over your shoulders. Let your arms fall to your sides. Shoulders, hips, knees and ankles should all be aligned perfectly.  The best way to practice good posture is to stand in front of a mirror as you are teaching your muscles to memorise the right position and muscles have memory. You will be able to see if you are balancing correctly or if you have a lack of balance.

#Chest and ribs need to be stable and still

This is important. Once they are still gradually extend your arms out to your sides until they are parallel with the flow. You should be making a ‘T’ shape with your body. Keep practicing until you feel your body is aligned

#Keep still

Take your hands and clasp them together behind your head and without moving your chest and ribs, gently inhale. At this point you should allow your lower abdomen to expand and drop away to receive the breath. Exhale small breaths, keeping your ribs and chest still and expanded.  You will notice the main areas being worked are the lower abdominal areas and the waist.

#Focus on crucial areas

You need to focus on the crucial areas of your breathing as these will enable you to be in control of how you breathe. Keep the sides (below ribs, at waist level) in a constantly expanding state. Not fixed or tight, or collapsed…always expanding outward. By first checking your posture with arms lifted up, then placing your fingers in your sides, you will feel the initial expansion when you inhale. Now, keep those areas expanding during the exhalation. As you work to develop this constantly expanding status in the sides, you will begin to experience a freedom in the throat.

#Comfort is important

Lie down on the floor, on your back. Get comfortable. Clasp your hands and let them rest on your abdomen around your belly. To ease any tension in your back, bend your knees, keeping your feet flat on the floor. Now, fully relaxing, with a still chest, feel the activity in your abdomen as you inhale and exhale. The more you keep the sides and back expanding,

the more the frontal, abdominal muscles will be able to do their work. By now you should be very aware of a healthy expansion of the abdominal area all the way from the sternum (the base of the breastbone) to the pelvic bone. You should also notice increasing

activity in the sides and lower and middle back. This is something you are allowing, not making. It’s natural.

#Make sure your hands are in the right place when exercising

Place your hands behind your head, keeping your elbows on the floor. Keeping your chest still, begin rhythmically taking in short breaths to the count of 1, 2, 3, 4 and blowing out short breaths to the count of 1, 2, 3, 4. Then expand that to 8 counts in and 8 counts our. Finally, when ready, advance to 16 in and out and even 32 counts in and out.

#Use appropriate equipment to help

Take a seat on the front edge of a firm chair and lean forward, resting your elbows on your knees. Even though you’re tilted forward from the waist, you should be able to draw a straight line through the ears, shoulders, and hips. Now, inhale by sipping through an

imaginary straw, in one slow, noisy breath through your mouth. Allow your waist (front, sides, and back) to fully expand. Instead, you should feel your abdominal, back, and side muscles getting involved. Exhale with a gentle hiss (ssssss), letting those abdominal muscles do most of the work while keeping other areas still.

#Perfect your alignment

While sitting imagine a posture string is lifting you to a standing position with

only a slight tilt forward. Practice staying aligned while moving back and forth between sitting and standing. Putting one foot slightly forward will make this easier, but you will be feeling your core muscles (abs/back) and quadriceps (legs) doing the work. As you alternate between these exercises your posture and breathing will continue to become more efficient for singing, speaking and . . . life. Vocal exercises can dramatically improve your singing performance ensuring you deliver on the day.

Remember: Muscles have memory and practice makes permanent, no matter what you’re practising.

 

Breathing techniques for singing

Singing is all about having a good technique. Like any other sport you can train yourself to become better at it. How do you do this? Simple, you need to use various breathing techniques related to singing which help you exercise and train your lungs, vocal chords, diaphragm and help you with breath control to enable you to make your voice more powerful which means you can hold notes for much longer.

Before using any breathing techniques to help your singing you first need to learn some basic breathing techniques to help you breathe normally. These basics will teach you how the lungs, diaphragm and trachea all work together to help you breathe.

When you breathe in your lungs will fill up with air. This should be a natural process. Under no circumstance should you be sucking in your stomach to make room for your diaphragm. At this point your body extracts the oxygen from your lungs leaving only carbon dioxide which you breathe back out. Also, when you breathe out your diaphragm will gently squeeze the lungs to push the air out

To put in simple terms, you should be breathing deeply and exhaling all the waste carbon dioxide from your lungs without forcing it out. This is done to make room for the new fresh air that your draw with your next breath. The more you breathe in and the more you manage to breathe out will help you hold your notes much longer. Breathing naturally also affects your singing performance as your notes will not sound forced or as though you are shouting them instead of singing them.

Breathing correctly

A quick breathing technique will tell you if you are breathing correctly. To start with lie flat on your back. Place your hand on your stomach so your fingers touch.  Start breathing in, you will feel how your stomach and chest move as they are filled with oxygen. You will be breathing correctly if you notice your stomach filling with air and expanding upwards towards your chest so that you end up with your stomach concave and your chest puffed outwards.

This is how you breathe normally and from here if you find you are breathing poorly you should use this position to consciously alter how you breathe and force yourself to allow for that ‘rolling’ motion up your stomach into your chest. Using these breathing techniques singing you can then fix your general breathing to enable you to sing and talk with more power and with more available air.

However singing is quite different from breathing normally as it requires you to exhale for long periods of time and to control the rate at which you let air escape. This requires control and again this can be trained using breathing techniques.

Controlling your breath

By using the method described above, you can try to alter the speed at which you breathe and how you let air escape. While maintaining good technique, breathe in continuously for the count of five seconds, then hold your breath for five seconds, then exhale continuously for five and begin again. You will find that breathing out for five whole seconds can be tricky as you quickly run out of breath, it is here then that control comes in to play as you have to use your breath control to let the air out slowly enough that you can breathe out for that long. This is how you learn to make the best of the amount of air your lungs can hold when holding a note. As you improve you can then begin increasing the number to control your inwards and outwards breaths for longer or shorter periods of time, just as you will need to in order to fit the phrasing of various songs.

A similar exercise used by some singers to train control is to breathe using a steady rhythm then ‘sing’ a number on each outwards breath, counting to say 20. This again requires control and each time it comes round to a count you need to be ready to have the right amount of air ready. This means inhaling and exhaling the correct amount at a steady rate.

As well as using breathing techniques singing style to control your breath, you can also benefit from simply holding more air in your lungs and so should work on increasing your lung capacity. You can do this with cardiovascular exercise which will help train your lungs, as will swimming underwater and holding your breath. By combining a larger lung capacity with a greater ability to control your breathing you will be armed with the ability to hold your notes and project them loudly and proudly.

Of course like all forms of training, the best form is to keep practicing. If you want to get better at singing, and singing in a certain way, then simply make sure you do vocal exercises and carry out breathing exercises often and try to enjoy what you do. That is the best way to improve on every facet of your technique.

 

Deep breathing facts

diaphragmIn general, the human organism was not designed to breathe deeply at all times and in all situations. The depth of our breath, whether it is shallow, medium, or deep depends in large part on what it is we are doing. If we are sitting quietly reading, for example, we do not need to be breathing deeply. If we are working hard and expending a great deal of energy, however, we might well need to breathe deeply. Another situation in which deep breathing can be beneficial is when we are trying to revitalise our energy.

Deep breathing can be important to both health and spiritual development. Such breathing can increase our vitality and promote relaxation. Unfortunately, when we try to take a so-called deep breath, many of us do the exact opposite: we suck in our bellies, raise our shoulders, and try to expand our chest. This is shallow breathing. To learn deep breathing we need to do far more than learn new breathing exercises. Before deep breathing exercises can be of any lasting value, we need to experience and understand through the direct inner sensation of our own bodies the function of the chest muscles and diaphragm in breathing, as well as the function of the belly and back. We also need to observe how unnecessary tension in our muscles impedes our breathing.

The diaphragm is a dome-shaped structure that not only assists in breathing, but also acts as a natural partition between our heart and lungs on the one hand, and all of the other internal organs on the other. The top of the diaphragm, located about one and one-half inches up from the bottom of the sternum, actually supports the heart, while the bottom of the diaphragm is attached all the way around our lower ribs and connects also to our lower lumbar vertebrae. When we breathe, the surface of our diaphragm generally moves downward as we inhale and upward as we exhale. When we breathe fully and deeply, which is only possible when the belly releases and expands on inhalation and retracts on exhalation, the diaphragm moves farther down into the abdomen, and our lungs are able to expand more completely into the chest cavity. This means that more oxygen is taken in and more carbon dioxide is released with each breath. Of course, if we breathe both deeply and relatively quickly, we could lose too much carbon dioxide too quickly, which can cause us to over breathe or hyperventilate.

Deep breathing, when it is easy, natural, and necessary, can have a beneficial influence on our health and well being. To understand how this happens, we need to remember that the diaphragm is attached all around the lower ribcage and has strands going down to the lumbar vertebrae. When our breathing is full and deep, the diaphragm moves through its entire range downward to massage the liver, stomach, and other organs and tissues below it, and upward to massage the heart. When our breathing is full and deep, the belly, lower ribcage, and lower back all expand on inhalation, thus drawing the diaphragm down deeper into the abdomen, and retract on exhalation, allowing the diaphragm to move fully upward toward the heart. In deep, abdominal breathing, the downward and upward movements of the diaphragm, combined with the outward and inward movements of the belly, ribcage, and lower back, help to massage and detoxify our inner organs, promote blood flow and peristalsis, and pump the lymph more efficiently through our lymphatic system. The lymphatic system, which is an important part of our immune system, has no pump other than muscular movements, including the movements of breathing.

As you begin to observe your breathing in the course of your everyday life, you may notice that you often breathe too fast for the conditions in which you find yourself, that is, you actually hyperventilate. This fast, shallow breathing expels carbon dioxide too quickly and has many bad effects on our physical and emotional health. When our breathing is deeper, when it involves in an appropriate way not only the respiratory muscles of the chest but also the belly, lower ribcage, and lower, middle and upper back, our breathing normally slows down. This slower, deeper breathing, combined with the rhythmical pumping of our diaphragm, abdomen, and belly, helps turn on our parasympathetic nervous system–our “relaxation response.” Such breathing helps to harmonise our nervous system and reduce the amount of stress in our lives. And this, of course, has a positive impact on our overall health.

By incorporating these breathing techniques into your inspiratory muscle training programme you will help strengthen your respiratory muscles.

 

Ben Barwick – It’s been a long time

Ben BarwickI realise that I haven’t updated my PB Blog in a while, having had a really disappointing run in London, I took a few weeks off training. However, after a few days I was chomping at the bit to make myself even better and I have taken this new enthusiasm into my training over the last month and a bit and really enjoying running again.

After any big race, especially the marathon, you always feel a bit flat and it takes time to get back into your running, The first 2 – 3 weeks when I come back from marathon training are some of the most horrible running weeks I ever have. Whereas before the marathon you feel like you are floating on air, the legs just feel heavy and really do not want to work!

Anyway, you get through it and I have had some good results these last few weeks, lowering my 10k pb to 34:32, and hopefully there is a bit more to come.

Onto POWERbreathe, I am still using the product, especially on race mornings as part of my warm up routine.

However, I have started to incorporate the POWERbreathe into my core workouts that I do. I can tell you now that you have never felt pain like trying to do a plank, whilst breathing through the K5! It is insane! Sometimes, I don’t even get close to taking in a full breath!! I think if you saw me doing it you would think I was insane!

It has made my core workouts a hell of a lot more enjoyable, and I think I am getting a lot more out of them now than I ever did before, as I am working so much harder. When I can easily manage 10 press ups with the K5 in, I will tell everyone who cares to listen about it!!

To do these workouts, I have created a custom 60 breath workout on the K5 Breathe-Link software, and then just keep using the K5 whilst i am doing my core. When I finish the workout, I just start it again and keep breathing. I have set the load to 80cmH20 for all the breaths. This is now where near the maximum I can do for a normal 30 breath session, but it doesn’t need to be! What I find really interesting is that there are some core exercises which aren’t that much harder with the K5 in, and some that make breathing almost impossible!

When I get a bit of time, I will put together some of my favourite core+PB workouts to share with you all!!

Until next time…..keep working that core!