What causes exercise-induced asthma?

The reason why asthma symptoms may be brought on during exercise has not been completely established but it is thought that because breathing becomes heavy and we breathe faster when we exercise, the linings of our airways narrow and dry out. Also weather conditions and allergies, such as an allergy to pollen, can also trigger asthma-like symptoms when exercising.

Recognising exericse-induced asthma (EIA)

Diagnosis is often made after symptoms, such as wheezing and a tight chest, are experienced during exercise, but this can result in either over-diagnosis, where athletes report symptoms but DO NOT have narrowing of the airways, or under-diagnosis where athletes who’re asymptomatic (showing no symptoms) DO have narrowing of the airways which affects their performance.

The scenarios above are supported in studies where elite athletes have been screened and shown to have EIA, such as reported by British Olympic Teams in the 2012 Olympics where it found that 25% of Team GB suffers from exercise-induced asthma. And at the 1996 Olympic games 20% of athletes reported asthma upon exercising.

Why screen for EIA?

The main reason is because exercise-induced asthma may be detrimental to an athlete’s performance, as it’s already been shown to reduce exercise capacity and running speed in colder environments which will not only affect an athlete during training but also during competition.

Treatment of EIA

Both pharmacological and non pharmacological therapies are currently successfully used to treat EIA, and studies have also highlighted the benefits of adjunctive intervention. POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training can be used as an adjunctive intervention, not only for daily training, but also as a respiratory warm-up prior to exercise.

Read more about Respiratory Disorders in endurance athletes in our blog.

And here’s an interesting article that looks at Pollen and Exercise Induced Asthma >

Breathe deeply with POWERbreathe for more energy

Deep breathing reaches the deepest depths of your lungs, and by practicing POWERbreathe inspiratory muscle training you’ll be training your respiratory muscles to breathe deeply into your diaphragm, taking in as much air as possible, breathing more in per breath.

As you’re breathing in more air per breath, you’re receiving more oxygen into your body, giving you more energy.

Senior consultant at the National heart Institute, India, and Founder, SAANS Foundation in India, Partha Pratim Bose offers a good example of this,

“By deep breathing exercises you breathe more per breath. If you breathe more per breath you expand your lungs more, you receive more oxygen. You will feel more energetic and also save your breaths. For example, if you breathe 250 ml per breath and your requirement is 5 litres then you need 20 breaths per minute. If you breathe more breath say double i.e. 500ml then you will require only ten breaths. So by breathing deep you breathe less and you feel better and conserve energy.”

Thankfully you can train your breathing muscles to breathe deep, as your respiratory muscles respond in the same way as skeletal muscles do to a training stimuli as they undergo adaptations to their structure and function. POWERbreathe is one such training stimuli, using the principles of resistance training to strengthen the inspiratory muscles. Its pressure loaded inspiratory valve offers the resistance on the inhale, while an unloaded expiratory valve allows for normal, passive exhalation.

How POWERbreathe Works >

You can read about other benefits of deep conscious breathing in Bose’s article ‘Wellness: Breathe like a tortoise, live like a king’ and here in POWERbreathe Benefits.

Women’s eliteVELO Cycling Race Team and POWERbreathe

Through our main UK distributor, HaB Direct, POWERbreathe are proud to be sponsoring this women’s development and performance road racing team, eliteVELO Kalas Sportswear Cycling Race Team.

The team consists of 6 enthusiastic and highly talented riders: Alice Miller, Frankie Morgans-Slader, Hester Stembridge, Jenny Powell, Julia Hesselberg and Sophie Black.

This weekend at Finlake Lodges in Newton Abbott the team met up for their first training camp together, beginning on Friday night (27th Feb) where the team received their training gear, courtesy of their sponsors POWERbreathe, KALAS Sportswear UK kit, LAZER HELMETS and Power Tap.

We gave each of the girls a POWERbreathe Plus, and one of the reasons POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training will be of benefit to this team of cyclists is because the hunched position they cycle in makes breathing more of a challenge. This hunched position creates breathing problems as the contents of the abdomen become compressed and push up against the diaphragm, the main breathing muscle. This restricts normal movement of the breathing muscles and makes breathing feel much harder.

POWERbreathe exercises the inspiratory muscles, training them to become stronger as the girls breathe in through the adjustable resistance. This daily training improves their breathing strength and stamina and reduces fatigue, which means they’ll also find they’ll be able to cycle for longer with less effort – all because they’ve been ‘working out’ their breathing muscles which are often neglected.

Another reason POWERbreathe training will be beneficial to the girls is because research has shown that ‘oxygen uptake in respiratory muscles differs between men and women during exercise’, with respiratory muscles in women consuming a greater amount of oxygen than men. Another study also found that ‘women have greater shortness of breath than men when exercising due to greater electrical activation of their respiratory muscles’.

Read more about POWERbreathe breathing training for cyclists >

The team, brought together by coaching company eliteVELO, will be competing at regional and national events including the Women’s Team Series and you can follow their progress on the team’s website, on Twitter, Facebook and here on POWERbreathe, where we also hope to bring you more photos by the team’s official photographer, Richard Fox Photography. In the meantime take a sneak peek of Richard’s EliteVelo Kalas CRT Cycling Shoot.

Efficient respiratory system is key for endurance

Dr. Anthony Alessi, Associate Clinical Professor of Neurology at the University of Connecticut, recently wrote in an article in The Norwich Bulletin about how an efficient respiratory system is crucial for the success of endurance athletes.

He explains how endurance athletes are most vulnerable to any alterations in the respiratory system “due to their reliance in efficient air exchange over prolonged periods of time.” The high-intensity training these athletes have to endure pushes their respiratory system to its limits which can result in respiratory conditions such as exercise-induced asthma.

“A series of breathing tests are necessary to differentiate these conditions and plan a course of treatment,” says Dr. Matt Hall, a sports medicine specialist who works with athletes at the University of Connecticut.

Dr. Alessi summarises his article by saying, “Asthma and other respiratory conditions can be the result of intense exercise but should not be an obstacle to competing, even at the highest levels.”

One type of training that would benefit these endurance athletes and help strengthen their respiratory system for the rigours of their training, is POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) which uses the principles of resistance training to improve the strength of the breathing muscles and increase their stamina. And because POWERbreathe is drug-free, if an athlete does find they need to take medication for say, asthma, then they can safely continue to train their breathing muscles using POWERbreathe as it will have no interactions. Stronger breathing muscles mean more resistance to fatigue and therefore more endurance – a win-win for endurance athletes.

So with POWERbreathe, endurance athletes can help make their respiratory system more resilient by improving the strength and endurance of their breathing muscles, also making their respiratory system more efficient and resilient.

See How POWERbreathe Works >

POWERbreathe benefits for sports and exercise >


Breathing – your magic bullet to improved sports performance

Breathing properly could just be your magic bullet to improved sports performance and sporting achievements.

In an article about The Dangers of Dysfunctional Breathing, international performance consultant Brandon Marcello, Ph.D., MS, CSCS says, “Having improper breathing form is no different from having improper squat form.”

The article goes on to say that ‘when it comes to physical activity, breathing ineffectively can alter your performance’. Therefore breathing effectively will also alter your performance, but for the better!

POWERbreathe inspiratory muscle training (IMT) exercises your breathing muscles, improving their strength and stamina, reducing fatigue which in turn enables you to train harder, for longer and with less effort which ultimately translates into improved performance.

POWERbreathe IMT has been scientifically proven to:


Metabolic reflection of respiratory muscles limiting athletic performance


We’re grateful to our friends Fit & Breathe Concept for bringing this article to our attention. It’s written by Germain Fernandez Monterrubio, Bachelor of Science in Physical Activity and Sport and can be found in its original language here: ‘El reflejo metabólico de la musculatura respiratoria como factor limitante del rendimiento deportivo’.

We’ve translated the original text as best we can (as follows), but if it is not entirely clear then you may also be interested in reading this research, published in The Journal (2007) of The Physiological Society, ‘Insights into the role of the respiratory muscle metaboreflex’.

Metabolic reflection of the respiratory muscles as a limiting factor in athletic performance

Numerous studies show ventilatory fatigue (the inability of the respiratory muscles to achieve preural given pressure) (Chicharro, 2010) is considered as a limiting factor in performance, especially in disciplines that require endurance (such as marathon, rowing, swimming , triathlon etc).

One of the limiting factors that future studies will focus on is that of determining the specific influence of Metabolic Reflection of Respiratory Musculature (RMMR) in different cases.

The RMMR initiates fatigue of the respiratory muscles, which through III and IV afferents reach the supraspinal level, triggering a sympathetic response by vasoconstriction of peripheral muscle locomotive, which intensifies the fatigue of active muscles and increases also perception of effort, contributing to the limitation of return linked to intense aerobic exercise. (Romer and Polkey, 2008).

In aerobic performance, the TOTAL energy demand is not a limiting factor (Santalla, 2009), the production of energy in the time given is the determinant of fatigue… the “metaboreflex”. Respiratory muscles induce a number of mechanisms by which respiratory muscle fatigue can affect exercise tolerance (Jack mackerel, 2010, Santalla 2010, Romer and Polkey, 2008), incurring a series of cardiorespiratory interactions:

Pulmonary level:

  • Fatigue contraction of the diaphragm and accessory muscles of respiration.
  • Increased reflexes activated metabolites.
  • Increased afferent discharge (track III and IV).

Muscular level:

  • Increased efferent sympathetic discharge.
  • Increased vasoconstriction members.
  • Decreased oxygen transport.
  • Increased locomotor muscle fatigue.
  • Increased perception of effort.

In an experiment carried out with cyclists (Fischer, 2013) participants were induced to metaboreflex with post-exercise muscle ischemia, indicating that the increase in heart rate and the partial withdrawal of cardiac parasympathetic tone, is mainly attributed to increased cardiac sympathetic activity, and only after exercise with large muscle masses.

We speak of respiratory muscles (and mechanical); of autonomic nervous, central nervous system and cardiovascular system regulation in humans. A review by Douglas R. Seals raised the premise that if the RMMR represented the “Robin Hood” of the body to the locomotor muscles (Seals, 2001), determining that this reflex can have as its main objective the delivery of oxygen to the respiratory muscles, guarantees the ability to maintain pulmonary ventilation, adequate regulation of the gases in the blood flow and the pH and general organ homeostasis. The reflection is considered the “vital organ” responsible for supporting lung function and perfusion of the respiratory muscles, especially during physiological states in which there is competition for cardiac output, as in the exercise to maximum and submaximal intensities. This overrides the locomotor muscles.

Usually this phenomenon is found in those training for a sport or competition in which there will normally be a struggle between the respiratory muscles and the locomotor muscles for blood flow. Determining this is not so simple, as it also depends on the intervention of the central nervous system, which impinge on some physiological and psychological responses, such as the perception of effort. Generalizing, we can say that to focus on metabolic compromise reflects both muscles (respiratory and locomotor) at maximal or submaximal, rather than related to aerobic capacity.

Author: Germain Fernandez Monterrubio, Bachelor of Science in Physical Activity and Sport.





  • SEALS, DR. (2001). Robin Hood for the Lungs? A respiratory metaboreflex that “steals” blood flow from locomotor muscles. J Physiol. 537(Pt 1):2
  • FISHER, JP y otros (2013). Muscle metaboreflex and autonomic regulation of heart rate in humans. J Physiol. 591.15 pp 3777–3788 3777
  • ROMER, LM y POLKEY, MI (2008). Excercise-induced respiratory muscle fatigue: implications for performance. J App Physiol. 104 pp 3879 3888
  • SANTALLA, A (2010). Presentation High Performance Program. Physiological Basis of Sports Performance. SE
  • CHICHARRO LOPEZ, JL (2010). Presentation Respiratory muscle fatigue induced by exercise: implications for clinical and performance.
  • HAJ GHANBARI, B. et alt. (2012) Effects of respiratory muscle training on performance in athletes: a systematic review with meta-analyses. J. of Strength & Conditioning Research.

View list of published research that used POWERbreathe as the IMT intervention of choice in POWERbreathe in Research.

Find more published research on our Inspiratory Muscle Training Research blog.

If you found this interesting (and if you found the translation not entirely easy to follow), you’ll probably find ‘Insights into the role of the respiratory muscle metaboreflex’ useful too.

Locomotor & diaphragm muscle fatigue in endurance athletes

Published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology (August 2014, Volume 114, Issue 8, pp 1619-1633).


Locomotor and diaphragm muscle fatigue in endurance athletes performing time-trials of different durations
Thomas U. Wüthrich, Elisabeth C. Eberle, Christina M. Spengler


“Fatigue in leg muscles might differ between running and cycling due to inherent differences in muscle activation patterns. Moreover, postural demand placed upon the diaphragm during running could augment the development of diaphragm fatigue.”


“We investigated quadriceps and diaphragm fatigue in 11 runners and 11 cyclists.”


“Different levels of leg muscle fatigue in runners and cyclists could in part be related to the specific muscle activation patterns including concentric contractions in both modalities but eccentric contractions in runners only. Diaphragm fatigue likely resulted from the large ventilatory load which is characteristic for both exercise modalities and which was higher in 15TTs than in 30TTs (+27 %, p < 0.01) while postural demand appears to be of less importance.”

Thankfully there is something you can do to help alleviate diaphragm fatigue. Like any other muscle group you can train your breathing muscles (which includes your diaphragm) with POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training. Click on the links below to find out more about:

View the Abstract here

View list of published research that used POWERbreathe as the IMT intervention of choice in POWERbreathe in Research.

Find more published research on our Inspiratory Muscle Training Research blog.

Respiratory Muscle Power & the Slow Component of O2 Uptake

Published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise (September 2014 – Volume 46 – Issue 9 – p 1797–1807)


Respiratory Muscle Power & the Slow Component of O2 Uptake

Cross TJ, Winters C, Sheel AW, Sabapathy S.


“The slow component of O2 uptake (V˙O2sc) represents a progressive decline in work efficiency during strenuous, constant work rate cycling. Although most of this “excess” O2 uptake can be explained by factors intrinsic to the exercising muscles, it has been proposed that respiratory muscle work rate may also contribute to the V˙O2sc response. To date, however, no study has provided a comprehensive analysis of the mechanical power of breathing (Pb) in relation to the V˙O2sc while performing strenuous exercise.


“The findings of this investigation support the thesis that the energetic contribution from respiratory muscles to the V˙O2sc amplitude is disproportionately higher during severe- compared with that during heavy-intensity exercise.”

View the Abstract here.

View list of published research that used POWERbreathe as the IMT intervention of choice in POWERbreathe in Research.

Find more published research on our Inspiratory Muscle Training Research blog.

Matt Bottrill – my goal of winning the National 25-mile Champs

All photos courtesy of: Larry at Velouk.net

Matt Bottrill, POWERbreathe user and time trialist, has won the National 25-mile Time Trial Championships in Cumbria! The event he’s always wanted to win.

Here’s his review of his success, in his own words…

“I’ve finally pulled it off National champ for 25 mile’s. The event I’ve always wanted to win. Thanks for all your help and support.

As I write this I still can’t stop smiling, even if I feel like I’ve been run over by a bus. The mental build up and training reaches its climax when you ride a National Championship. And the day after if it’s gone to plan I always feel wasted!!

This weekend after 18 years of trying to win the Blue Ribbon event of time trialing I finally took the top step and reached my dream of winning the Men’s National 25 mile championships. Ever since I turned senior it’s always been my number one target. It’s been a hard road getting here, but I’ve never given up hope that one day I could pull off winning. All the great legends of time trialing have won the race (Alf Engers, Eddie Atkins, John Pritchard, Chris Boardman, Graham Obree, Stuart Dangerfield, Chris Newton, Jason Macyntyre and Michael Hutchison to name but a few) and it’s great to have joined the club with some of the best time trialists that Great Britain has ever produced.

I’ve had so many top 5 places and medals I’ve lost count but to finally pull off the win is a moment in my cycling career I will never forget. It’s fair to say I could quite happily retire tomorrow, and know I’ve done everything I’ve ever set out to do in cycling. It proves that you should never quit no matter how long it takes. Always have the belief that you can reach your dreams. It takes a lot of hard work and commitment but with the right approach, dedication and backing anybody can reach their goals. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all my Family, Friends, Supporters and Sponsors for all of your support on the journey…”

Now on to the race…

One hundred and twenty riders would take the start. The event was held in Cumbria on some of the most beautiful roads for racing with the scenic views.

The first rider would set off at 8am in torrential rain – the first few riders would get the worst of the conditions. The times being posted where a good indication that it was going to be a really hard day’s racing.

The final 10 rides would set off at 2-minute intervals and it was super Vet Charles McCulloch www.drag2zero.com, 49:58 who’d set a standard so high that only two riders would be able to beat it.

The final few riders came, but no rider would match the time of McCulloch. It was the last two riders to start who would have the greatest battle: Matthew Clinton (Mike Vaughan Cycles) and Matthew Bottrill (www.drag2zero.com) to decide the champion. At just 6 miles it was Bottrill who took charge with a 16 seconds advantage over Clinton and who’d push hard all the way until the finish.

With a winning margin of 41 seconds over the flying Clinton, Bottrill punched the air with joy has he crossed the finish, with a new course record time 48:15 to Clintons 48:56!

Here are the Top 3 Winning Times:

  • 1st Matthew Bottrill (www.drag2zero.com) 00:48:15
  • 2nd Matt Clinton (Mike Vaughan Cycles) 00:48:56
  • 3rd Charles McCulloch (www.drag2zero.com) 00:49:58 We’d like to congratulate Matt on achieving his dream of winning the National 25-mile Championship and on setting another new course record!

Matt is already a multi-national time trial champion and Drag2Zero.com team rider and he’s been using the POWERbreathe K5 with Breathe-Link Software to help improve his breathing strength and stamina and time trial performance.

Training the inspiratory muscles with POWERbreathe should be a part of every time trialist’s training as POWERbreathe has been shown to reduce breathing fatigue and improve cycling time trial performance by approximately 4.6% – the equivalent to slashing 3-minutes off a 40k time trial.

Read more about POWERbreathe breathing training for cyclists, or if you’re a cyclist and are already using POWERbreathe, then please leave a comment here or on the POWERbreathe Forum, Facebook or Twitter as we’d love to hear about how you’ve benefited from this breathing training. You can also read more about POWERbreathe and cycling training in the Blog’s Cycling category.

Another course record for Bottrill, in Nev Crane Memorial 25m time trial

More great news from Matt Bottrill, multi-national time trial champion, Drag2Zero.com team rider and POWERbreathe K5 user, as he breaks his own course record…

On Sunday morning (20th July) 115 riders took part in the Nev Crane Memorial 25 mile time trial in Lincolnshire with the aim of beating last season’s course record of 50:04, set by Matthew Bottrill.

“The event got underway at 8am with dry conditions and just a slight breeze making it ideal for racing.

The early standard was set by Andy Jackson (Team Swift) in an incredible time of 50:36. This was going to take some beating, and so good was his ride that it was well clear of all the other riders, Brett Harwood (Terry Wright Cycles) at 52:28 and Adam Gascoinge (Pedal Power) at 52:36.

With all the riders up on the course, Matthew Bottrill (www.drag2zero.com) took his place on the start line, and with the men’s National 25 just two weeks away it was going to be a real test to see how his current form was. At the halfway point Bottrill was leading by just over 30 seconds, but in the tailwind section Bottrill hit full gas and opened a further 13 seconds on the flying Andy Jackson. This set a new course record of 49:53 with Bottrill beating his own record and winning number 16 for the 2014 season.


  • 1st Matthew Bottrill (www.drag2zero.com) 49:53 – Setting NEW course record
  • 2nd Andy Jackson (Team Swift) 50:36
  • 3rd Brett Harwood (Terry Wright Cycles) 52:28

Bottrill said about his winning ride, “I’m very satisfied with today’s result. I wanted to see what I could do on the course, and after a really heavy weeks training to still hit 30mph I know my form, it’s nearly at its peak ready for my major goal of the season the Men’s National 25. It’s just a matter of keep the intensity up and staying focused for the next two weeks.

Congratulations to Matt yet again as he continues to go from strength to strength!

Read more about POWERbreathe breathing training for cyclists, or if you’re a cyclist and are already using POWERbreathe, then please leave a comment here or on the POWERbreathe Forum, Facebook or Twitter as we’d love to hear about how you’ve benefited from this breathing training. You can also read more about POWERbreathe and cycling training in the Blog’s Cycling category.