Basketball increases respiratory work which impedes performance

A new original article in the Porto Biomedical Journal looks into the influence of inspiratory muscle training (IMT) in female basketball players.

Female basketball players and inspiratory muscle fatigue (IMF)

This new randomised controlled trial from Portugal explains how IMF may impede a basketball player’s performance. When the inspiratory muscles fatigue blood flow to the player’s legs, arms and torso are compromised. This affects performance.

Respiratory work and breathing perception

As a player throws or passes a ball they are engaging their upper torso and trunk muscles. They are also engaging their diaphragm as they try to stabilise their core muscles. As a result this increases respiratory work and breathing perception. Consequently the breathing muscles (inspiratory muscles) fatigue.

Benefits of inspiratory muscle training (IMT)

Scientific studies show that IMT increases an athlete’s tolerance to high intensity exercise. It does this by enhancing pulmonary oxygen consumption. In fact wheelchair players report an improvement in performance, as do swimmers.

The influence of IMT in basketball players

The randomised controlled trial investigates this influence of Inspiratory Muscle Training by randomly assigning professional basketball players to the experimental group (EG) or control group (CG).

Players from the EG perform Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) with POWERbreathe. This consists of 30 breaths, five times a week over four weeks. However the CG do not perform any IMT using POWERbreathe.

The EG group show an increase in pulmonary function, which is how well the lungs are working.

Additional benefits of using POWERbreathe for IMT

Findings also suggest that the cost of implementing POWERbreathe IMT is relatively small. Therefore different basketball clubs can implement this intervention with the objective of improving each players’ pulmonary function.

Finally the trial concludes that a 4-week IMT protocol leads to a positive evolution of basketball players’ pulmonary function. Furthermore the results suggest that the applied IMT protocol is effective.

Read ‘The influence of inspiratory muscle training on lung function in female basketball players – a randomized controlled trial’ >

Common causes of dyspnoea in athletes

This article published in the European Respiratory Society’s June issue of Breathe explains how dyspnoea, (shortness of breath or breathlessness), during exercise is a common complaint in seemingly otherwise healthy athletes, and which may be associated with fatigue and underperformance. As dyspnoea may be caused by numerous factors, from poor aerobic fitness to serious, potentially fatal respiratory and nonrespiratory pathologies, the article explains why it is important for clinicians to obtain an appropriate case history and ask relevant exercise-specific questions to fully characterise the nature of the complaint so that a targeted diagnostic plan can be developed for the athlete. The article looks into asthma and exercise-induced bronchoconstriction, and exercise-induced laryngeal obstruction and vocal cord dysfunction, the most common treatments for which have included diaphragmatic breathing control. Even for those athletes experiencing expiratory flow limitation it is suggested that this could be overcome through controlled breathing methods or respiratory muscle training.

POWERbreathe respiratory muscle training (RMT) strengthens the breathing muscles, improving their stamina and reducing fatigue. POWERbreathe RMT has been clinically proven to reduce dyspnoea during exercise and daily activities, as well as improving exercise tolerance and quality of life particularly in patients with COPD (see References below.).

Read the full, free article in Breathe: Common causes of dyspnoea in athletes: a practical approach for diagnosis and management References:

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How To Avoid Stitch

During fitness and sports activities it’s not uncommon to experience stitch – that uncomfortable feeling in your side which can cause you to slow down and impair your performance. But stitch has been linked to breathing problems and is considered to be a muscle spasm of the diaphragm and the ligaments that support it. An article in Runner’s World addressed this problem for new runners who were having problems with their breathing and consequently suffering from stitch. The article explains how these muscle spasms and stitch “are thought to occur from the strain and fatigue associated with the increased workload of accelerated breathing from exercise.” There is a particular type of training that will help alleviate this breathing fatigue, inspiratory muscle training. POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training devices (breathing trainers) exercise the muscles you use to breathe in, the inspiratory muscles. It works by adding a resistance to your breath as you breathe in through the device – like dumbbells for your diaphragm. As your breathing muscles become stronger you increase the resistance, so you’re always challenging them, and specifically targeting them. Increased breathing strength results in an increase in breathing stamina too and a reduction in breathing fatigue. So in regard to stitch resulting from breathing fatigue, POWERbreathe IMT devices offer the very solution to help make these a distant memory. Not only that but because of your increased breathing strength and stamina, you’ll be able to run, cycle, swim, ski etc farther for longer and with less effort!

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Effects Of IMT on Respiratory Function And Repetitive Sprint Performance In Wheelchair Basketball Players

“There is considerable evidence that respiratory muscle training improves pulmonary function, quality of life and exercise performance in healthy athletic populations. The benefits for wheelchair athletes are less well understood. This study examined the influence of inspiratory muscle training (IMT) upon respiratory function and repetitive propulsive sprint performance in wheelchair basketball players.”


“Although there was no improvement in sprint performance, participants in both the IMT and sham-IMT reported an improved respiratory muscle function and quality of life.”

Read Effects of inspiratory muscle training on respiratory function and repetitive sprint performance in wheelchair basketball players >

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.

POWERbreathe and Liz McTernan, Para-Triathlete

POWERbreathe met up with Para-Triathlete Liz McTernan at the University of Lincoln, along with the University’s Senior Lecturer in Sports Science, Dr Sandy Willmott.

Liz, who’s based in Lincolnshire, is a world ranked Paracyclist and world Para-Triathlon Bronze Medalist 2012.

Liz took up the sport after faulty diving equipment gave her a severe case of the bends and bubbles of air damaged her spinal cord, lungs and other muscles. The bends occurs when dissolved gases (mainly nitrogen) come out of solution in bubbles which can affect just about any area of the body, including the joints, lungs, heart, skin and brain.

Paracycling, or handcycling, is a major Paralympic discipline, having gained significant public attention at the London 2012 Olympics and features four different sports divisions: C for Cycling, H for Handbike, T for Tricycle and B for blind or visually impaired.

Liz competes in a Tricycle, with the three wheels providing more balance, and in addition to her usual training Liz will be incorporating POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training into her routine as part of her preparation for the World Championships and the land speed record she’s going to attempt this year.

Liz will be using the POWERbreathe K5 with Breathe-Link live feedback software to exercise her breathing muscles to make them stronger, because as with any high-intensity exercise, such as rowing and hand-cycling, the high respiratory demand in these sports ‘steals’ blood from other working muscles, and in Liz’s case her arms, reducing her overall performance. So by using POWERbreathe to subject her inspiratory muscles to an appropriate training resistance, Liz’s breathing muscles will adapt, increasing in their strength, power and stamina for an improved performance.

Read more about breathing effort in wheelchair sports >

Effects of IMT on Resistance to Fatigue of Respiratory Muscles in Exercise

EliteVelo Kalas Sportswear Cycling Race Team by Richard Fox Photography

EliteVelo Kalas Sportswear Cycling Race Team using POWERbreathe Plus IMT (above)
PHOTO: Richard Fox Photography


Effects of Inspiratory Muscle Training on Resistance to Fatigue of Respiratory Muscles During Exhaustive Exercise
M. O. Segizbaeva, N. N. Timofeev, Zh. A. Donina, E. N. Kur’yanovich, N. P. Aleksandrova

This study, published in Body Metabolism and Exercise – Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology (Volume 840, 2015, pp 35-43) concluded that IMT elicits resistance to the development of inspiratory muscles fatigue during high-intensity exercise.


To assess the effect of inspiratory muscle training (IMT) on resistance to fatigue of the diaphragm, parasternal, sternocleidomastoid and scalene muscles in healthy humans during exhaustive exercise.

The sternocleidomastoid muscle flexes the neck and helps with the oblique rotation of the head. Also, the muscle helps in forced inspiration while breathing, and it raises the sternum. As for forced inspiration, the muscle also works in concert with the scalene muscles in the neck. The scalene muscles are lateral vertebral muscles that begin at the first and second ribs and pass up into the sides of the neck. There are three of these muscles. (SOURCE:


“The study found that in healthy subjects, IMT results in significant increase in MIP (+18 %), a delay of inspiratory muscle fatigue during exhaustive exercise, and a significant improvement in maximal work performance. We conclude that the IMT elicits resistance to the development of inspiratory muscles fatigue during high-intensity exercise.”

Read Effects of Inspiratory Muscle Training on Resistance to Fatigue of Respiratory Muscles During Exhaustive Exercise

Check out more Inspiratory Muscle Training Research here >

Discover POWERbreathe used in Research here >

GB Boccia team’s POWERbreathe progress report

In April we were honoured to meet the GB Boccia team and coaches to whom we presented POWERbreathe.

The team members and coaches were interested to see how inspiratory muscle training with POWERbreathe could help them with their breathing in general but also with their core trunk strength and posture for an improved sports performance. The athletes informed of us how their breathing can be impeded from sitting in the wheelchair while playing the sport, and how they felt that strengthening their breathing muscles could help their physical health as well as their sports performance. You can read more about our first visit to meet the team in our blog, POWERbreathe Training for GB Boccia Team.

During our previous visit we tested each team member’s inspiratory strength, flow and volume using the POWERbreathe K5 with Breathe-Link Software and left them each with a POWERbreathe Plus model of their own to use for daily training. Well on the 12th June we were delighted to meet up with the team again and run follow-up tests to see if they’d improved – and to see if they’d all stuck to their training of 30 breaths twice a day.

As before we were warmly welcomed and it was great to see the team and coaches again. We tested each team member on the K5 using the Breathe-Links software and found extremely encouraging results. Each and every athlete had improved his or her Strength-Index, Volume and Flow rates!

Three of the athletes found using POWERbreathe on its own a little difficult to use, so we provided each of them with a respiratory mask to help make it easier and more comfortable, and it meant that they too could continue with their daily training.

We are so grateful to the Boccia team and their coaches for making us feel welcome, and delighted that they each were able to actually see the improvements they’ve made for themselves. We look forward to reporting back on their continued improvement when we meet up with them again.

Read more about POWERbreathe for Wheelchair Sports, or if you already compete in a wheelchair sport then please leave a comment here or on the POWERbreathe Forum, Facebook or Twitter pages. You can also read about how POWERbreathe has been used by other wheelchair athletes in our Wheelchair Sports blog.

POWERbreathe training for GB Boccia Team

You may have read in our previous blog, GB Olympic Boccia Team Physios impressed by POWERbreathe about our meeting in February with the GB Olympic Boccia team physios and British Paralympic athlete Nigel Murray MBE.

Well since then we’ve had the privilege of being invited to meet the entire GB Boccia team and their coaches, at the Forthbank Performance Sport Centre in the heart of Stirling Sports Village.

We presented POWERbreathe to the coaches and Boccia team who were interested in seeing how inspiratory muscle training with POWERbreathe could help the team with their breathing in general as wheelchair athletes, but also with their core trunk strength and posture for an improved sports performance. It was a really interesting meeting with mutual benefit, as we learnt from the athletes themselves about how they feel their breathing can be impeded from sitting in the wheelchair and how they felt that strengthening their breathing muscles could help their physical health as well as their sports performance.

We took a few photos of the team and coaches trying out the K5 which you can see in the GB Boccia Team album on Facebook.

The Boccia team sports coaches were already very knowledgeable about the respiratory system and the role of breathing in exercise and were therefore quick to understand how POWERbreathe works. They themselves then were able to explain in more detail about the fundamentals of improving breathing strength and stamina to the athletes.

The team and coaches were able to test their own breathing strength using the POWERbreathe K5 with Breathe-Link Software and see their results in real-time on screen. Each team member has been provided with a POWERbreathe Plus model so that they can begin their inspiratory muscle training immediately and begin to feel the benefit within the next 4-6 weeks.

We’ll be visiting the team again to see how they’re getting on with their training, but in the meantime read more about POWERbreathe for Wheelchair Sports, or if you already compete in a wheelchair sport then please leave a comment here or on the POWERbreathe Forum, Facebook or Twitter pages.