Acclimatisation to High Altitude – POWERbreathe IMT is Beneficial

There is a new Review Article in Frontiers in Physiology (January 2019) that looks into using respiratory/inspiratory muscle training for acclimatisation to altitude.

Respiratory muscle training

Respiratory muscle training, or RMT, is a programme of exercises that aim to improve the function of the respiratory muscles. Otherwise known as the ‘breathing pump’ muscles, the expiratory muscles and the inspiratory muscles make up the respiratory muscles. It’s the inspiratory muscles that we use when we breathe in. The main inspiratory muscle is the diaphragm, but to a lesser extent, the intercostal muscles also help with inhalation. To help improve the strength and stamina of these inspiratory muscles, respiratory muscle training will include Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT).

Inspiratory Muscle Training

Inspiratory muscle training, such as with POWERbreathe, uses resistance to provide the training effect. When breathing in against the resistance, the breathing muscles have to work harder. As a result, they get stronger. Consequently, breathing stamina improves resulting in a reduction in breathing fatigue. There is numerous research validating this form of breathing training and, as a result, it is the most commonly used.

The review

For the review, researchers perform a comprehensive search, analysing seven appropriate studies. Three of these studies refer to using respiratory muscle endurance training (RME with isocapnic hyperpnea). However, the remaining four studies use respiratory muscle strength training (RMS with POWERbreathe IMT).

Acclimatisation to altitude

Studies suggest that respiratory muscle training with IMT is a useful preparatory method for enhancing respiratory muscle efficiency 4-6 weeks before being exposed to hypoxia/altitude.

It is evident that breathing during exercise in hypoxia is associated with increased energy costs (20–30%) when compared to normoxia. Therefore, it is more likely to cause respiratory muscle fatigue. However, inspiratory muscle training will help to combat this. This is because IMT trains the inspiratory muscles to become stronger, increasing stamina. Consequently, breathing muscle fatigue reduces.

It, therefore, seems apparent that breathing muscle training has the potential to minimise at least some of the limiting respiratory factors that occur during training and competition in hypoxia/at altitude.

Benefits of acclimatisation to altitude using IMT

The Review suggests that both elite athletes and non-elite individuals may benefit from RMT, including:

  1. A delay in the onset of premature fatigue.
  2. A delay in respiratory muscle metaboreflex onset/activation.
  3. An improvement in clearance and tolerance to anaerobic metabolite products.
  4. A decrease in the perception of dyspnea (‘air hunger’).
  5. An increase in oxygen saturation values.
  6. A more favourable blood redistribution to the locomotor muscles.

Finally, evidence from this review finds that respiratory muscle training is an effective stimulus for improving the strength and endurance of the respiratory muscles. In fact, it’s these adaptive responses that contribute to the improvement of ventilatory function and efficiency. In translation, this means that respiratory muscle training is very likely to improve exercise performance in normoxia and particularly in hypoxia/altitude.

Pilates Plus IMT Improves Lung Function

Researchers from Brazil are looking at the effects of combining Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) with Pilates on lung function in elderly women. The reason for this is because ageing affects the respiratory system. In fact, it can change the composition of the lung’s connective tissue.

Ageing and the lungs

Ageing will ultimately affect bones and muscles. Moreover, natural ageing also affects the bones and muscles of the chest. Consequently, it may affect the shape of the ribcage. As a result, the ribcage may no longer expand or contract as well as it once did, during breathing. Additionally, the main breathing muscle, the diaphragm, becomes weaker too. This will affect how much air a person is able to breathe in and out.

Furthermore, ageing affects lung tissue and the airways may lose their ability to stay open. Additionally, the air sacs begin to lose their shape. Consequently, air may become trapped in the lungs. This affects how well you’re able to breathe.

Why inspiratory muscle training?

Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) is a form of resistance training that exercises the inspiratory muscles. The main inspiratory muscles are the diaphragm and intercostals. It’s these muscles that are responsible for drawing air into the lungs. Furthermore, it’s these muscles that will be affected by ageing. Therefore, exercising these muscles with IMT will limit the effects of ageing. IMT will help them to become stronger and less prone to fatigue.

The IMT device that participants use in this trial is the POWERbreathe K5.

Participants breathe in through the K5 for 30 breaths. They perform this twice, with a one-minute interval between each set. After two weeks’ training, they must increase the training resistance by 10%. Researchers then assess an individual’s results following Pilates exercise.

Why Pilates?

Pilates is an exercise programme, developed in the 20th Century by Joseph Pilates. The exercises focus on improving core strength and muscular imbalance. Furthermore, Pilates improves flexibility, overall muscle strength and is low-impact, making it ideal for the age group in this study.

As we age, we become less active and more sedentary. Consequently, sitting for long periods limits movement and affects the body. In fact, age affects the entire musculoskeletal system: joints, muscles and bones. As a result, posture is affected and we also start to lose muscle tone, balance and joint mobility. Pilates can help to minimise these age-related changes.

For this study, participants use the Cadillac, Combo Chair and Reformer devices for the Pilates method. The researchers recommend nine exercises per session. Participants perform up to three sets of 12 repetitions of each exercise. They do this for a maximum of 45-minutes.

Study results

To establish if IMT positively effects breathing muscle strength, each participant’s maximum inspiratory pressure (MIP) is measured. MIP is an index of diaphragm strength and an independent predictor of all-cause mortality (longevity). Study findings show that MIP significantly evolved in the elderly. Additionally, the study highlights:

“the use of the POWERbreathe K5 device, which further favoured the gain in this variable.”

Findings also show:

“that all the variables were significantly better in the intervention groups than in the Control Group, thus strengthening the importance of the association between IMT and Pilates.”

In conclusion

“In conclusion, physiotherapy is an excellent ally in the prevention, promotion, and maintenance of health, quality of life and functional capacity in the gerontological population. The use of the Pilates Studio method, associated with technological equipment that allows more detailed analysis and treatment of pulmonary conditions, strength, function and mobility, was shown to be beneficial for this type of application.”

The influence of inspiratory muscle training combined with the Pilates method on lung function in elderly women: A randomized controlled trial >

Metaboreflex & Performance in Elite Female Soccer

ECSS is the European College of Sport Science (ECSS). Part of its purpose is to promote junior scientists and foster state-of-the-art research. And in order to do this, ECSS have created the Young Investigators Award (YIA). This award-winning research, presented in the video, is for Metaboreflex and Performance in Elite Female Soccer: Effects of Inspiratory Muscle Training.

Video presentation of ECSS YIA winning research

Metaboreflex & Performance in Elite Female Soccer

This research aims to determine the effects of Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) on respiratory and peripheral muscles oxygenation. It examines this during a maximal exercise tolerance test and on repeated-sprint ability (RSA) performance in professional women football players.

Inspiratory Muscle Training

All participants in the study perform 6-weeks of IMT. The device they use for IMT is the POWERbreathe K5 with Breathe-Link Live Feedback software.

At the end of their 6 weeks’ training, all participants are reevaluated.

Research Findings

The findings show that,

“…only the IMT group present lower deoxyhaemoglobin and total haemoglobin blood concentrations on intercostal muscles concomitantly to an increased oxyhemoglobin and total haemoglobin blood concentrations on vastus lateralis muscle during time-to-exhaustion”

Research Conclusions

Results suggest the potential role of IMT to attenuate inspiratory muscles metaboreflex. Consequently, oxygen and blood supply to limb muscles during high-intensity exercise improves. Furthermore, there is also a potential impact on inspiratory muscle strength, exercise tolerance and sprints performance in professional women football players.

ECSS YIA Award

ECSS presents scientists with the opportunity of entering this prestigious competition for scientific excellence, every year. And it’s at the ECSS annual congress where young scientists present their scientific work, as they compete to win the YIA Award.

Following presentations, members of the ECSS Scientific Board and ECSS Scientific Committee, grant the awards. They base this decision upon an oral and mini-oral presentation for the top ten presentations respectively.

Bruno Archiza is the winner of this 2016 YIA award, and his presentation took place at the 21st annual congress of the ECSS in Vienna.

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.

 

 

Fin-Swimming Performance Improves after RMT

Fin swimming is the closest you’ll get to being a mermaid, thanks to the use of the fin that propels the athlete through the water. Athletes use both floating and breathing equipment to race. In fact fin-swimming involves four techniques, each determining a type of race.

Types of Fin-Swimming

‘Surface Swimming’ is where swimmers use a mask, snorkel and monofins and remain at the surface of the water.

In ‘Bi-Fins Swimming’, swimmers also remain at the surface of the water but use a mask, snorkel and a pair of fins.

‘Apnoea Fin-Swimming’ involves swimmers using a mask and mono-fin while swimming underwater, holding their breath.

And in ‘Immersion Swimming’, a mask and mono-fin are used while swimming underwater using breathing apparatus.

Respiratory Muscle Function in Fin-Swimming

Fin-swimming requires inspiratory power to ‘breathe-in’ sufficiently while swimming. But the respiratory muscles are not just essential for breathing, they’re also important in body movement. Furthermore, the auxiliary respiratory muscles remain active as the main respiratory muscles tire. And as a fin-swimmer, you will not want any of your locomotor muscles to tire.

Respiratory Muscle Function in Swimming

Research shows that respiratory muscle function can influence swimming performance. Studies also show that respiratory muscle training (RMT), or inspiratory muscle training (IMT), influences performance in a positive way.

Breathing Challenge in Fin Swimmers

Like swimmers, fin-swimmers perform both on the surface and underwater. This is to a depth of 1-2 metres. But fin-swimmers include practising a temporary cessation of breathing, or apnoea, during training. This inevitably puts a great demand on their breathing. As a result, the strength of their breathing muscles is challenged, as is the flexibility of their rib cage.

Another aspect of fin-swimming that will affect respiratory mechanics, is the racing swimsuit. Unlike a swimming costume that covers only the torso, this swimsuit envelops as much of the body as possible. As a consequence, the fin swimsuit causes considerable muscle compression and an increase in the work of the inspiratory muscles.

As a result, the inspiratory muscles need to overcome not only hydrostatic resistance but also resistance from the swimsuit. And now, as the discipline of fin-swimming is on the increase, coaches are looking for ways to improve athletic performance

Fin-Swimming Study

So, the aim of this study is to verify if one month of Respiratory/Inspiratory Muscle Training (RMT/IMT) is beneficial to fin-swimmers. In order to do this, researchers assess the effect of this type of training on the respiratory muscles, and on maximal underwater distance.

Study Conclusions

This study concludes that 4 weeks of respiratory muscle endurance and strength training increases respiratory muscle strength and has a positive effect on the swimming performance in fin-swimmers.

So for fin-swimmers, this study demonstrates the possibilities for targeted sports training that focuses not only on swimming performance and general physical fitness but also on respiratory performance.

It also enables coaches and others interested in fin-swimming training to expand their knowledge and training methods, which can positively influence the athletic performance of young fin-swimmers.

The study, The Effect of Respiratory Muscle Training on Fin-Swimmers’ Performance, is published in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine.

Obese adolescents feel exercise is easier after breathing training

New research has found that respiratory muscle endurance training (RMET) reduces the O2 cost of cycling and perceived exertion in obese adolescents.

Oxygen cost reduces during cycling effort in obese adolescents

Research published in the American Journal of Physiology assessed whether RMET would be beneficial to obese adolescents who exercised. And so they added breathing training to a standard weight-loss programme. They wanted to see if it decreased the rate of oxygen usage while exercising; in this case, cycling. They also wanted to see if the training reduced how hard participants felt they were working. This is known as perceived exertion. They also wanted to see if it increased their tolerance to exercise.

Researchers method

Nine male obese adolescents underwent 3 weeks of respiratory muscle endurance training. They performed this over 5 days. Another eight age-and sex- matched obese adolescents underwent a standard body mass reduction program. The was the control group (CTRL).

Before and after the exercise interventions each participant performed on a cycle ergometer. Breath-by-breath pulmonary ventilation and oxygen uptake, heart rate and ratings of perceived exertion for dyspnea/breathing discomfort and leg effort were all determined.

Research findings

Participants in both the RMET group and control group decreased their body mass (by ~3.0 kg). During the constant work-rate exercises, the oxygen cost of cycling, the slope of oxygen uptake versus time, breathing discomfort, leg effort and heart rate decreased following RMET but not following CTRL.

Research conclusions

The researchers concluded that in obese adolescents, respiratory muscle endurance training superimposed on a standard body mass reduction program, lowers the oxygen cost of cycling and perceived exertion during constant heavy-intensity exercise. In effect, exercise feels easier after breathing training. And breathing training can be performed in conjunction with a weight loss programme.

Influence of IMT on Cycling Performance at altitude

This study, Influence of IMT on Ventilatory Efficiency & Cycling Performance in Normoxia and Hypoxia, is published in Frontiers in Physiology. The aim of the study is to analyse the influence of inspiratory muscle training (IMT) on ventilatory efficiency in normoxia and hypoxia. It also investigates the relationship between ventilatory efficiency and cycling performance.

The point of the study

The premise of the study is that IMT improves ventilatory efficiency in normoxia and hypoxia. It also reduces the metabolic demands of the respiratory muscles in both conditions. The study also hypothesizes that improvements in submaximal cycling performance can be linked to improvements in ventilatory efficiency in normoxia and hypoxia.

Study method

The study assigns participants, at random, to either a control group or an inspiratory muscle training (IMT) group. The IMT group were to complete 30 inhalations twice a day using the POWERbreathe K3. They were to do this 5 days a week for 6 weeks. Researchers set the POWERbreathe K3 to 50% of each participant’s Pimax (maximal inspiratory mouth pressure). By contrast, the control group did not perform any IMT.

To determine Pimax participants had to inspire through the K3 as quickly as possible. And in order to achieve a stable measurement they were perform this a few times.

Conclusions for training at altitude

The study suggests a possible positive effect of IMT on cycling time trial performance in both normoxic and hypoxic conditions. It also shows that hypoxia has a negative effect on ventilatory efficiency. It furthermore shows that IMT may reduce this effect.

Additionally the authors report that these findings may have relevance for athletes planning to train at a high altitude, or compete at high altitude.

Finally, the study suggests that Inspiratory Muscle Training before a competition at altitude might be a successful method to improve performance.

Efficacy of Inspiratory Muscle Training on Elite Swimmers (PEAK)

This study is a randomized controlled trial. Firstly it will look at the efficacy of inspiratory muscle training using POWERbreathe. Furthermore it will asses the swimming performance, airway dysfunction and perceived breathlessness in the elite swimmers recruited for the trial. Finally the trial will recruit participants from the elite competitive Futebol Clube do Porto swimming team.

Intervention used in swimming trial

    • POWERbreathe IMT

ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT03062735

Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial Evaluating the Efficacy of Inspiratory Muscle Training on Swimming Performance, Airway Dysfunction and Perceived Breathlessness in Elite Swimmers >

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’ >

Study finds athletes benefit from prescribed, sport-specific, IMT

The Japan Institute of Sports Science published this study, Maximal inspiratory mouth pressure in Japanese elite male athletes in Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology (August 2016). It explains that maximal inspiratory mouth pressure (MIP) is a common measurement of inspiratory muscle strength. MIP  is often used in a variety of exercises to test the effects of inspiratory muscle training (IMT). Understanding MIP characteristics in elite athletes’ is required in order to guide sport-specific inspiratory muscle training programs. This study investigated the MIP characteristics of elite athletes from a variety of sports.

Conclusion

Findings suggest that athletes could benefit from prescribed, sport-specific, inspiratory muscle training or warm-ups.

POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT)

POWERbreathe IMT devices use the principles of resistance training to exercise the inspiratory muscles. This training makes the breathing muscles stronger. Stronger breathing muscles mean improved stamina and reduced fatigue. And as breathing strength and stamina increase so performance improves. There are many studies that show IMT can increase the strength and endurance of the inspiratory muscles. This study from the University of Birmingham concluded just that, and used POWERbreathe to do so. POWERbreathe IMT is also beneficial as part of a sports warm-up, when using it on a reduced load setting on the POWERbreathe Classic or Plus. However the POWERbreathe K3, K4 and K5 all feature a Warm-up Mode which automatically sets a proportion of your normal training level for you. Research has shown that a standard pre-exercise warm-up routine fails to prepare the breathing muscles for the rigours of exercise. POWERbreathe IMT is also a hugely beneficial recovery protocol. A POWERbreathe ‘cool-down’ will help speed lactate clearance more effectively than traditional active recovery strategies. Researchers at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil have found that breathing against a small inspiratory load immediately after exercise reduces lactate by 16%.

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