Rugby & the Beneficial Effects of Inspiratory Muscle Training

The nature of the game of rugby involves high and low-intensity action. Also, the physical demands of the game are specific to each player’s positional role. However, despite the player’s position, all need to be aerobically fit. Each must also have a high lactate tolerance and be strong and powerful.

Challenges facing rugby players

Most of the game of rugby is sub-maximal. This means that the intensity at which the player performs increases at a steady rate. Furthermore, this sub-maximal exercise will only work the player up to 85% of their maximum heart rate.

However, integral to the game are intermittent sprints, tackling, scrums, rucks and mauls. These are supra-maximal. And it’s this part of the game that pushes players beyond their maximum limit. Consequently, breathing effort will be a challenge.

The pattern of exertion rugby has on players places extreme demands upon their breathing. This is because these activities are anaerobic and generate high levels of lactic acid. Furthermore, the lactic acid stimulates their breathing to increase. In addition, a unique feature of rugby is the involvement of high-intensity upper body activity. This can induce conflicting demands upon the breathing muscles, which as well as bringing about breathing, are also essential in activities that involve the upper body.

This 2018 study from Brazil reiterates the fact that the respiratory muscles need adequate work to maintain sustained effective breathing in the sport of rugby.

The scientific study

This scientific study set about analysing the effects of high-intensity inspiratory muscle training (IMT) in 20 amateur rugby players. These players are from the city of Uberaba, Minas Gerais, Brazil.

For the trial, the amateur players undergo a pulmonary function test, respiratory muscle strength and physical capacity assessment. Researchers then split them into two groups: the IMT group and the control group, each consisting of 10 players. The study has approval from the Research Ethics Committee of the Federal University of Triângulo Mineiro under protocol no. 2398.

Rugby training & conditioning for the trial

During the trial, players begin training with a warm-up by jogging for 5-minutes. They then perform dynamic stretching of the major muscle groups. Following this, the researchers have the players simulate specific moves applied to the game of rugby to improve its fundamentals. These include such moves as passing, blocking, feinting and collective strategic moves. Ultimately, the training session ends with stretching.

Players in the Inspiratory Muscle Training group perform three weekly sessions of an inspiratory muscle training programme, using the POWERbreathe Plus, for 12 consecutive weeks. These sessions are supervised by a physiotherapist and a physical education professional.

The IMT group protocol

This group protocol consists of:

  • 10 minutes’ stretching of the trunk muscles, upper and lower limbs
  • 10-minute inspiratory warm-up by performing a full and vigorous inspiration through the POWERbreathe Plus IMT device
  • A series of 30 repetitions using 80% of maximal inspiratory pressure using the POWERbreathe Plus IMT device. After the fourth training session, the level is increased.

The control group protocol

This group of 10 players perform the same protocol as above, except they do not perform the 30 repetitions of inspiratory muscle training using the POWERbreathe Plus.

Effects of high-intensity IMT in Rugby Players

Results show that the 12-week course of high-intensity POWERbreathe IMT provides significant increases in maximal voluntary ventilation (22%), maximum inspiratory pressure (38%), PEmax (32%), and distance travelled (13%) in the YoYo Test.

Also worthy of note is how physical capacity will be compromised if the respiratory system does not provide sufficient oxygen supply to satisfy the demands. Researchers explain that when the arrival of blood to the respiratory muscles decrease, it experiences fatigue and leads to lactic acid buildup. Consequently, this situation causes a decrease in the strength and resistance of the respiratory muscles.

Results of this trial suggest therefore that the POWERbreathe IMT training protocol provides beneficial, positive effects for rugby players.

The study

Effects of high-intensity Inspiratory Muscle Training in Rugby Players >

Tennis Players’ Endurance Improves after POWERbreathe IMT

New research shows tennis players’ endurance and strength improves after Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT). The research from Pune, India, is in the International Journal of Current Research (February 2018).

What affects tennis performance

The main characteristics of this game are intense bouts of running, such as sprinting to reach a ball. Consequently, breathing is driven to its highest levels. And this induces extreme breathlessness. This affects performance.

In order to continue to play effectively while maintaining a high level of skill performance, breathing mustn’t hinder performance.

Breathing effort in tennis

Playing tennis involves using your breathing muscles in your torso to brace and twist during a racket stroke. Also, experienced players use their inflated lungs to brace the impact of the ball and racket. This helps them to control the release of air from their lungs and optimise the transmission of force. However, breathing muscle fatigue impairs this control. Thankfully though, breathing muscle strengthening training will improve this. Using a device that specifically trains the breathing muscles, the inspiratory muscles, is the easiest way of doing this. These are called Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) devices, such as POWERbreathe IMT. And training your breathing muscles to become stronger can help with a player’s postural control and movement too.

Research into players’ endurance

The research from Pune highlights the fact that tennis matches feature high-intensity, short- duration bouts of extreme activity with a short rest time. And it’s the competition of blood flow between the arms and legs and the breathing muscles which ultimately increases breathing fatigue.

For this study, researchers use the POWERbreathe KH1 Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) device to strengthen participants’ breathing muscles. Furthermore, each participant performed a prescribed protocol for using the device for five days over four weeks. Researchers were aiming to assess the effect of IMT on cardiovascular endurance in lawn tennis players.

Research findings

The findings of this latest research show there to be,

“significant improvement in cardiovascular endurance and strength in lawn tennis players after progressive inspiratory muscle training.”

How to improve tennis performance

POWERbreathe IMT specifically targets the breathing muscles, strengthening them by around 30-50%, significantly improving performance and helping to eliminate breathing fatigue. And these findings are a result of studies with tennis players who, after IMT, took less time to recover and were ready sprint maximally again more quickly.

 

 

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’ >

Inspiratory Muscle Fatigue In Trained Cyclists: Effects Of Inspiratory Muscle Training

“This study evaluated the influence of simulated 20- and 40-km time trials upon postexercise inspiratory muscle function of trained competitive cyclists. In addition, it examined the influence of specific inspiratory muscle training (IMT) upon the responses observed.”

Conclusion:

“Data support existing evidence that there is significant global inspiratory muscle fatigue after sustained heavy endurance exercise. Furthermore, the present study provides new evidence that performance enhancements observed after IMT are accompanied by a decrease in inspiratory muscle fatigue.”

Read Inspiratory muscle fatigue in trained cyclists: effects of inspiratory muscle training >

Oxygen Uptake Kinetics And Maximal Aerobic Power Are Unaffected By IMT In Healthy Subjects Where Time To Exhaustion Is Extended

“The aim of this study was to determine whether 4 weeks of inspiratory muscle training (IMT) would be accompanied by alteration in cardiopulmonary fitness as assessed through moderate intensity oxygen uptake (V_O2) kinetics and maximal aerobic power (V_ O2max).”

Conclusion:

“The improvement of maximal static inspiratory mouth pressure (Pi,max) in training group shows that IMT training enhances inspiratory muscle strength; however, this is not supported by improvement in either VO2 kinetics or VO2max. It is therefore likely that IMT training alone is not of direct benefit to the cardiopulmonary fitness of healthy subjects. However, diaphragmatic fatigue may have a limiting role in maximal constant-load exercise and consequently, IMT might be a useful stratagem of extracting greater volumes of endurance work at high ventilatory loads, which in turn could improve cardio-pulmonary fitness.”

Read Oxygen uptake kinetics and maximal aerobic power are unaffected by inspiratory muscle training in healthy subjects where time to exhaustion is extended >

Effects of IMT on Resistance to Fatigue of Respiratory Muscles During Exhaustive Exercise

“The aim of this study was 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.”

Conclusion:

“The study found that in healthy subjects, IMT results in significant increase in maximal inspiratory pressure, 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 >

Inspiratory Muscle Fatigue In Swimmers After A Single 200m Swim

“Inspiratory muscle fatigue may occur in as little as 6 min during high-intensity spontaneously breathing exercise. The aims of this study were to determine whether inspiratory muscle fatigue occurs during swimming exercise and whether inspiratory muscle strength differs between the supine and standing body positions.”

Conclusion:

“Results indicate that a single 200m front-crawl swim corresponding to 90-95% of race pace was sufficient to induce inspiratory muscle fatigue in less than 2.7 min. Furthermore, although diaphragm muscle length is optimized when supine, our results indicate that the force output of the diaphragm and inspiratory accessory muscles is greater when upright than when supine.”

Read Inspiratory muscle fatigue in swimmers after a single 200m swim >

Influence Of Different Breathing Frequencies On Severity Of Inspiratory Muscle Fatigue Induced By High-Intensity Front Crawl Swimming

“The aim of this study was to assess the influence of two different breathing frequencies on the magnitude of inspiratory muscle fatigue after high-intensity front crawl swimming.”

Conclusion:

“Data suggested that there is significant global inspiratory muscle fatigue after high-intensity swimming. Inspiratory muscle fatigue is, however, greater when breathing frequency is reduced during high-intensity front crawl swimming. Respiratory muscle training should be used to improve respiratory muscle strength and endurance in swimmers.”

Read Influence of different breathing frequencies on the severity of inspiratory muscle fatigue induced by high-intensity front crawl swimming >

The Impact Of Swimming Speed On Respiratory Muscle Fatigue During Front Crawl Swimming

“The Critical velocity (Vcrit) represents a holistic swimming fatigue threshold and critical stroke rate is thought to coincide with Vcrit. Whether Vcrit, and in-turn critical stroke rate, also represent an inspiratory muscle fatigue threshold is not known.”

Conclusion:

“The study provided data demonstrating that inspiratory muscle fatigue is correlated with relative but not absolute front crawl swimming velocity, and stroke rate. Whilst this finding is obvious and to be expected, the novel aspect is that the study was able to determine the relative velocity associated with the development of inspiratory muscle fatigue. Specifically, inspiratory muscle fatigue occurred when swimming at (in some) and above (in all) Vcrit and when stroke rate was at (in some) or above (in all) 92% of critical stroke rate in both male and female adolescent swimmers.”

Read The impact of swimming speed on respiratory muscle fatigue during front crawl swimming: a role for critical velocity? >

400-Meter and 800-Meter Track Running Induces Inspiratory Muscle Fatigue In Trained Female Middle-Distance Runners

“Inspiratory muscle fatigue (IMF) may limit exercise performance. A few studies have reported that IMF occurs after short-duration swimming exercise, but whether short-duration running can induce IMF remains unclear.”

Conclusion:

“IMF occurs after short-duration running exercise. Coaches could consider prescribing inspiratory muscle training or warm-up in an effort to reduce the inevitable IMF associated with maximal effort running.”

Read 400-meter and 800-meter track running induces inspiratory muscle fatigue in trained female middle-distance runners >