Non-Asthma Related Breathing Problems In Athletes

This BASES Expert Statement looks into exercise respiratory symptoms, such as wheezing, tight chest, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath and coughing which are commonly reported by athletes.

These non-specific symptoms need to be assessed in order to confirm or eliminate the presence of cardio-pulmonary causes.

There is a high prevalence – 70% – of asthma and exercise induced bronchoconstriction (EIB) in sports with high breathing requirements, and it has been assumed that exercise-induced respiratory symptoms in these athletes is due to asthma or exercise-induced-asthma (EIA).

Symptoms however are misleading and this Expert Statement looks at these differential causes of exercise respiratory symptoms: Exercise-Induced Laryngeal Obstruction (EILO) and Dysfunctional Breathing.

Interventions are then discussed which include breathing pattern retraining and inspiratory muscle training and finally conclusions are made.

You can read the full Expert Statement here, Assessment and Management of Non-asthma Related Breathing Problems in Athletes.

Proper Breathing – POWERbreathe Can Help

Your primary breathing muscle is your diaphragm; a dome shaped thin sheet of muscle separating your rib cage from your abdomen.

When you inhale this dome shape flattens out as your diaphragm contracts, pushing down on the contents of your abdomen (your gut) and increasing the space in your chest cavity.

Because your gut has to go somewhere as your diaphragm descends, it forces it down and out and your tummy expands. Because of this, this natural, healthy and proper way of breathing is often referred to as abdominal breathing or diaphragmatic breathing.

If you do already have a good breathing technique it can often go awry when you start exercising as you demand more air and your breathing increases to compensate. This is when your breathing technique can change from good diaphragmatic breathing to reverse breathing i.e. pulling in your tummy as you breathe in and letting your tummy go as you breathe out.

Because your diaphragm is a muscle, you can train it like any other muscle to become stronger and helping you retain that good diaphragmatic breathing even when pushed to your limit. POWERbreathe targets your inspiratory muscles – not only your diaphragm but also your intercostal muscles, the tiny muscles in between your ribs, which are recruited during a slightly forced respiration.

You’ll notice when training with POWERbreathe that you have to work harder to breathe in. This is the effect of resistance training acting on your inspiratory muscles. When breathing out, POWERbreathe offers no resistance because when you exhale normally, your diaphragm and intercostals naturally relax and move back up, pushing the air from your lungs.

Olympic and ‎Paralympic Archery Team – POWERbreathe Update Session 1

You may recall at the end of May we met up with Great Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic ‎Archery teams at Lilleshall National Sport Centre & Conferencing Centre where we presented the benefits of POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training. You can read more about this in our first blog, POWERbreathe for Olympic and ‎Paralympic Archery Team Members.

Now, at the end of June, we thought we’d pop in to the Paralympic Archery centre in Lilleshall again to re-test three of the archers who were there and see if their breathing parameter results had improved.

We checked in with Jo Frith, Mel Clarke and Tania Nadarajah.

Results after 4-weeks’ POWERbreathe Training

Jo, Mel and Tania’s results all showed excellent improvements across all breathing parameters!

Their Coach, Matt McGovan, was also very impressed with their results but nonetheless subtly adjusted their method of using POWERbreathe to suit the needs of their sport, archery.

Great result too at the World Paralympic Championships!

Some of GB’s archers went head-to-head to represent Great Britain at this year’s World Championships in Copenhagen and the World Paralympic Championships in Donaueschingen.

  • POWERbreathe user Jo Frith was one of three to come top in her category, W1 Women.
  • Amy Oliver and Nicky Hunt, also POWERbreathe users, came top in their category, Recurve Women.
  • POWERbreathe user Tania Nadarajah was one of three to come top in her category, Recurve Women Open.

And now the teams have been named…

World Archery Championships – This competition runs from 26 July to 2 August.
The archers selected for the World Archery Championships and Olympic qualifier in Copenhagen are:

  • Recurve women: Amy Oliver (POWERbreathe user), Naomi Folkard, Nicky Hunt (POWERbreathe user)

World Archery Para Championships – This competition runs from 23 to 30 August.
The archers representing Great Britain at the World Archery Para Championships and Paralympic qualifier in Donaueschingen are:

  • W1 women: Jo Frith (POWERbreathe user), Jessica Stretton, Vicky Jenkins

POWERbreathe for Olympic and ‎Paralympic Archery Team Members

POWERbreathe met up with Great Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic ‎Archery teams at Lilleshall National Sport Centre & Conferencing Centre where they’re working towards British success at the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

We presented POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) to team members and management, explaining the benefits of IMT and demonstrating how the POWERbreathe K5 with Breathe-Link Live Feedback Software can be hugely informative when training the breathing muscles as it allows for instant feedback and later analysis which can used to tailor training guidelines per athlete.

Certain members from each team have begun to train their breathing muscles using the POWERbreathe Plus after returning home after the World Championships in Shanghai.

Performance benefits for archery team members are:

  1. A reduction in upper respiratory muscle dominance and over recruitment of musculature around the neck which can be over used for stability and breathing. “We get a large number of athletes that report tightness in the upper traps and anterior neck muscles due to some of these reasons” says Matthew McGovern, Senior Physiotherapist for GB Archery, English Institute of Sport.
  2. Increased trunk stability and improved shoulder function. Both areas are of massive importance for archers.
  3. General health, due to optimised breathing which has been shown to improve efficiency of breathing, build stamina and help reduce fatigue.