Lower Blood Pressure with POWERbreathe IMT

The University of Colorado Boulder is using the POWERbreathe K-Series in their independent research. They are investigating the effects of just 30 breaths of inspiratory muscle strength training (IMST). Specifically, they are looking to see if it could lower blood pressure and reduce heart attack risk. They are also investigating whether it could help you think more clearly and boost sports performance.

Lower blood pressure

One of the key findings of the research so far is that 30 breaths of IMST (about five minutes) will lower blood pressure. Crucially, with about half the tests completed, researchers report significant drops in blood pressure and improvements in large-artery function. In fact, their findings show that about 5-minutes of IMST lowers blood pressure as much as aerobic exercise and more than some medications.

Other preliminary findings

The research findings also suggest that just 5-minutes of IMST may also boost cognitive function. Furthermore, their findings show that it may also improve fitness and increase sports performance. In fact, these improvements are already proven in previous research studies. However, this study reiterates such findings.

With the help of the university’s new National Institute on Ageing grant, researchers are launching a clinical trial.

The research

Research subjects will either be a part of a sham group (using low/no IMST) or the IMST group. The IMST group will perform 30 breaths of inspiratory muscle strength training (taking approximately 5-minutes). IMST is strength training for the muscles you use to inhale. Both groups will be performing their version of IMST over a period of 6 weeks. Researchers are hoping that by doing this for 5 minutes a day in the comfort of their own home, people will get health benefits they otherwise might not get.

The tests

Researchers will be performing tests to evaluate:

  • Vascular function – how healthy the blood vessels are
  • Cerebral vascular function – how healthy the blood vessels in the brain are
  • Cognitive function
  • Physical performance – VO2 max testing assesses this
  • Motor function

Results so far are showing that the IMST group, compared to sham subjects, are lowering their blood pressure and improving blood vessel health. Also, the IMST group is performing better on certain cognitive and memory tests. In addition, the IMST group are able to keep their heart rate and oxygen consumption lower during exercise. Consequently, subjects are also showing an increase in exercise tolerance time too.

Positive outcomes

With all this evidence, researchers hope that by using IMST, people may be able to get their blood pressure under control, decrease their risk of chronic conditions and live healthier lives.

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 >

Revolutionise your Sports Performance with Breathing Training

Your breathing can often be a limiting factor as you exercise, reducing your sports performance. It can let you down, preventing you from performing at your best as you stop to ‘catch your breath’. Consequently, breathing muscle training is a discipline elite coaches include to improve athletes’ breathing muscle strength and stamina. In fact, by performing breathing muscle training, an athlete’s breathing muscles will fatigue far less. As a result, athletes are able to continue with their training for longer before breathing exhaustion strikes. Consequently, the athlete’s sports performance improves.

How to Improve Your Sports Performance

Breathing muscles, the inspiratory muscles, play a vital role in the efficiency of breathing during exercise. Additionally, as you age the strength of your inspiratory muscles starts to reduce, even if you’re fit.

It is when you move out of your ‘comfort zone’ and you’re working above your lactate threshold that your breathing starts to increase steeply. You will perceive this as breathlessness, as your inspiratory muscle work increases.

To help prevent this from limiting your training sessions and ultimately your performance, it is beneficial to strengthen your inspiratory muscles. In order to do this, you must subject your breathing to a training stimulus.

Aerobic exercise can help to provide a training benefit to your inspiratory muscles, but it is not targeted and therefore sufficient enough.

Research shows that specific inspiratory muscle training:

Therefore, by training your inspiratory muscles daily with an inspiratory muscle training (IMT) device such as POWERbreathe:

  • You’ll experience an increase in resistance to fatigue – this will become apparent as you find yourself exercising for longer with less effort
  • Your breathing efficiency will improve – this is because your lungs will require less oxygen for the purpose of breathing, allowing more delivery to your other working muscles, such as your arms and legs

The result of these adaptations is an increase in sports performance.

Winter Training Advice

If we are to believe the news, the UK this year will experience a colder than average winter. But don’t let this deter you from your winter training.

Winter Training

There are a few things you can do to make your winter training more comfortable.

  1. Perform a warm-up for your muscles.
  2. Perform an inspiratory warm-up.
  3. Dress in layers and protect your hands and feet.
  4. Wear reflective clothing.
  5. Hydrate.

Physical warm-up

A physical warm up prior to any exercise is essential. Firstly it will help to prevent injury. Secondly, it will improve performance. A warm-up will take about 10-minutes and is best performed immediately prior to exercise. If you plan on going out for a run, a 10-minute brisk walk or jog will do the trick.

The intention of a warm-up is to increase muscle temperature. By performing a warm-up you will increase blood flow to your muscles, warming them up. Furthermore, by increasing blood flow, more oxygen will be available for your muscles. As a result, your performance will improve.

The NHS website has a great, all-round exercise warm-up routine that takes about 6-minutes to perform. It involves:

  1. Marching on the spot.
  2. Heel digs.
  3. Knee lifts.
  4. Shoulder rolls.
  5. Knee bends.

Inspiratory warm-up

An inspiratory warm-up means warming up the muscles you use to breathe in. Just like your other working muscles, your breathing muscles benefit too from a warm-up. In fact, not warming up the breathing muscles can lead to excessive breathlessness during the start of your training.

An Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) device, such as POWERbreathe IMT, is designed specifically to target the breathing muscles. They use a resistance that you breathe in against. This makes your breathing muscles work harder. As a result, your breathing muscles become stronger and more resistant to fatigue. As a consequence, your stronger breathing muscles will not demand so much oxygen, freeing it up to go to your other working muscles instead. And just like the physical warm-up, more oxygen to your muscles means better performance.

Wear layers and reflective clothing

Wearing layers of clothing allows you to stay warm but easily cool down too when needed. This is beneficial because while training you’ll generate heat. If you’re too warm this heat will make you sweat, and the evaporation of sweat will make you feel chilly. Therefore, the benefits of layering are that you’re able to peel off a layer when you feel warm, and pop it back on when you start to cool down. Additionally, make sure your outer layer – your waterproof layer – is reflective. The reason being, at this time of year it gets dark earlier and this can creep up on you when out training.

In addition to layering your body in clothes, you need to ensure your hands, feet, ears and head stay warm too. In fact, a lot of heat escapes from your head. Furthermore, in the cold, your body firstly ensures your core is warm. This results in blood flow to your hands, feet and head being drawn away, leaving them cold.

Hydrate

In the warmth of summer, it’s easy to remember to drink. However, this is an easy thing to forget during winter training. You may not feel thirsty, but you will still become dehydrated. This happens simply from breathing, as well as sweating. Drinking before, during and after training is just as important in the winter as it is in the summer.

Staying safe

Last but not least, stay safe while winter training. Make sure someone knows where you’ll be going. Monitor how you feel while you’re out. Closely monitor the time too, so you know when to head for home. Listen to your body. You know it best. If you’re feeling rotten, consider training another day instead.

Finally, heed the advice from the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) on how to stay healthy during winter.

Respiratory Muscle-Induced Metaboreflex

A recent research paper in Experimental Physiology looks into the effect of an increase in inspiratory muscle work on blood flow to inactive and active limbs. It addresses the process of metaboreflex.

What is metaboreflex?

Metaboreflex is where the body restricts blood flow to the limbs when the breathing muscles fatigue. The body will do this to ensure the role of breathing continues. This is because breathing is crucial to survival. Therefore, when the body experiences a conflict between breathing and moving, breathing wins out.

How does metaboreflex work?

As soon as the body senses a conflict between breathing and extreme activity, it will redirect blood flow to the breathing muscles, for survival. In so doing, blood flow to the exercising limbs shuts down, allowing the diaphragm a chance to recover. What this tells us is that the stronger the diaphragm is, the faster it will recover. Consequently, stronger breathing muscles will, in turn, result in a better blood supply to your working limbs. This will result in a better sports performance.

These YouTube videos from breathing expert James Fletcher, clearly demonstrate the metaboreflex.

Part 1

Part 2

Study results

When exercising, the amount of energy consumed by the working muscles can be high and prolonged. Blood flow to these working muscles needs to be matched. The results of this study suggest that the control of blood redistribution to the working muscles is facilitated, in part, by respiratory muscle-induced metaboreflex.

Delaying the onset of metaboreflex

Improving the strength of your breathing muscles will help to delay the onset of the metaboreflex for the diaphragm. A scientifically proven way of doing this is with Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT). In fact, there are other studies showing IMT to be beneficial too.

This award-winning research, awarded by the European College of Sport Science (ECSS), also suggests the potential role of IMT to reduce inspiratory muscle metaboreflex.

Another study suggests respiratory muscle training could enhance sports performance by delaying this process.

Finally, there is a study by Germain Fernandez Monterrubio, Bachelor of Science in Physical Activity and Sport, in which he finds how respiratory muscle fatigue can affect exercise tolerance on a pulmonary level, as well as, a muscular level.

Effect of increased inspiratory muscle work on blood flow to inactive and active limbs during submaximal dynamic exercise >

Can Multiple Sclerosis Affect Breathing

The automatic nervous system is part of the central nervous system. It controls vital functions, one of which is breathing, which we do without thinking. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, it is unusual for MS to affect the nervous system and therefore breathing.

How Multiple Sclerosis affects breathing

However, patients with MS will experience muscle weakness. This affects all parts of the body, including the breathing muscles. These muscles, mainly the diaphragm and intercostals begin to lose their strength and stamina. As a result, breathing becomes more difficult and breathing in and out feels like hard work. Consequently, this adds to the feeling of fatigue, which is already a debilitating symptom of Multiple Sclerosis. Furthermore, the weakness of the breathing muscles may also impede speech and voice production.

How to improve breathing strength and stamina

A 2007 study shows that Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) significantly increases breathing muscle strength in people with MS. Additionally, IMT improves how well the lungs work in people with Multiple Sclerosis who have minimal to moderate disability.

The effects of Multiple Sclerosis on your body

Healthline, the fastest growing health information site, has created this medically reviewed infographic showing the effects of MS on the body.

The infographic itself provides a quick look at the effects of MS on the body. However, the rest of the article goes on to explain in more depth how this progressive neurodegenerative condition has an impact on the whole body.

Tips to Improve Breathing

You may be asking yourself why you need to improve your breathing. It’s a fair question. After all, at rest, you take 12 – 16 breaths per minute without even thinking about it. So just imagine what your breathing would be like if you were to start thinking about how you do it. Here you’ll find 5 top tips to improve breathing.

Begin by breathing more deeply. Don’t breathe from your chest but from your abdomen instead; your diaphragm. Your diaphragm is your main breathing muscle. It’s the one you really need to think about utilising when you breathe.

Unlike diaphragmatic breathing, chest breathing means you’ll only be taking in shallow breaths. Consequently, it doesn’t provide your body with the amount of oxygen it needs to function properly. As a result, chest breathing will take a toll on your body. Unfortunately, many of us will be chest breathers, as we lead busy lives and are constantly in a state of flight or fight. In addition to the lifestyle we lead, we may also chest breathe because of a poor posture. In fact, because more of us are working on screens – from mobiles to desktops – ‘screen-apnoea’ is fast becoming a new world condition.

Screen apnoea, poor posture – in fact, many things, can result in poor breathing habits. But there are ways to improve your breathing.

Tips to improve breathing

  1. Use Google’s new 1-minute Breathing Exercise tool. Search for ‘deep breathing’ or ‘breathing exercise(s)’ to get a 1-minute guided mindfulness exercise to control your breathing.
  2. Exercise your breathing muscles with Inspiratory Muscle Training.
  3. Learn to sing! It’ll help you to control your breathing.
  4. Improve your posture. Stand up straight and draw your shoulders up, back and down.
  5. Exercise to a level where speaking becomes difficult. This will improve your body’s ability to use oxygen.

Your lungs and exercise

It is well known that being active is good for you. If performed on a regular basis, it will improve your quality of life. In fact, regular exercise will also help you maintain a healthy heart and a healthy weight. Consequently, regular exercise helps to reduce the risk of serious illness. Furthermore, it helps to keep your lungs healthy too.

The European Respiratory Society has a fact sheet, that is free for all, about how exercise affects your lungs. It also explains how breathing is influenced by activity. Finally, it discusses the benefits of exercise for people with and without a lung condition. It is called Your Lungs and Exercise.

Are you a chest breather?

Place your left hand on your chest. Now place your right hand on your abdomen. Breathe in and see which hand rises more. If it’s your right hand, you’re breathing using your diaphragm. However, if your left-hand rises more, you are breathing from your chest.

If you’re breathing using your diaphragm, then you’re breathing as nature intended. However, if you’re a chest breather, then you’re not pulling the air into the base of your lungs. Consequently, this shallow breathing will affect your health. It creates tension in your body that can lead to all sorts of everyday problems.

Whether you’re breathing from the diaphragm or chest, you will still benefit from exercising your breathing muscles. Training these muscles with inspiratory muscle training will result in improvements such as breathing strength and stamina. In turn, it will reduce breathing fatigue and you’ll be able to do more, with less effort. So it’s definitely worth trying out our tips to improve breathing. Always check with a healthcare professional first, before starting any form of exercise.

ERS 2018 – POWERbreathe KH2

This year the ERS International Congress is being held in Paris, France. The ERS 2018 (European Respiratory Society) Congress is the world’s biggest meeting of respiratory experts. It is of interest to researchers, clinicians, GPs and healthcare professionals. Furthermore, it provides a scientific and educational programme in respiratory medicine.

ERS 2018

ERS is expecting over 22,000 delegates. They all have the common goal of improving respiratory health across the world; not just Europe. For that reason, it provides hands-on sessions and seminars, as well as, scientific evidence and new medical equipment and devices.

Respiratory Products at ERS 2018

The ERS International Congress includes an official exhibition. In fact, while attending the Congress, over 87% of the delegates will visit this area. The reason being, this is where medical suppliers demonstrate new products and share information, such as new research studies.

POWERbreathe International Ltd. will be exhibiting in Booth G.03. Here delegates will be able to find out more about the POWERbreathe KH2 with Breathe-Link Medic Live Feedback Software.

POWERbreathe KH2

This electronic device delivers ‘gold standard’ respiratory muscle training. Furthermore, it provides instant monitoring and feedback analysis of patients with dyspnoea. Consequently, it is beneficial to patients with COPD, asthma, cystic fibrosis, heart disease, neuromuscular disease, Parkinson’s disease and spinal injury.

The KH2 features a Quality Control MIP test to ensure repeatable Maximum Inspiratory Pressure results. It does this by recording the maximum value of three manoeuvres that vary by less than 20%.

The Breathe-Link Medic Live Feedback Software captures, organises and stores data and analysis of a patient’s respiratory muscles’ performance.

Exclusive Offer for ERS 2018

Attendees at this year’s Congress who visit the POWERbreathe booth will receive an exclusive offer. Please visit our Booth C10 to find out more. Terms and Conditions apply.

New Asthma Treatment for Severe Asthma

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), are consulting again on the safety and efficacy of a new asthma treatment. The new treatment, bronchial thermoplasty, is likely to be offered to adults with severe asthma. The procedure involves applying thermal energy (heat) to the inside walls of the airways.

New asthma treatment

Bronchial thermoplasty will take place under sedation or general anaesthetic. Short pulses of radiofrequency energy are applied to the airway wall. Following that, patients will need to attend an additional two sessions, with 3-week intervals, to complete the procedure.

The aim of this new treatment is to reduce the smooth muscle mass lining the airways, decreasing their ability to constrict. Hopes are that by having this procedure, the severity and frequency of severe asthma attacks may decrease. NICE is currently in the process of considering the evidence for this treatment. Additionally, it’s listening to the views of specialist advisers with knowledge of the procedure.

Furthermore, to ensure safety, NICE is recommending that only a multidisciplinary team treat patients. In addition, they recommend that only specialist centres with on-site access to intensive care should carry out the procedure. Finally, they are proposing that only clinicians with experience of bronchial thermoplasty and managing severe asthma should perform the procedure.

As it stands, NICE believe there is adequate evidence to support the use of this new asthma treatment.

Severe asthma

In their consultation document, NICE say that in severe asthma, the lining of the airways becomes inflamed and narrow. Furthermore, this narrows the airways, making it harder for air to pass through. This makes it harder to breathe. And it is this that bronchial thermoplasty aims to tackle.

Complementary treatment for asthma

Research shows there to be an alternative, complimentary asthma treatment for opening up the airways and assist in easier breathing. This treatment is Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT). Simply put, it is breathing muscle training, such as with the POWERbreathe IMT device. It too is clinically proven. Furthermore, it is drug-free.

The research reaches the conclusion that six-months of specific inspiratory muscle training improves inspiratory muscle strength and endurance. It also results in improvement in asthma symptoms, hospitalisations for asthma, visits to the emergency department, absence from school or work, and medication consumption in patients with asthma.

Alternative treatment for asthma – IMT

Inspiratory Muscle Training, such as with POWERbreathe IMT, is easy to use, straight out of the box. Because it is drug-free, there are only minimal precautions and contraindications that the Healthcare Professional needs to be aware of before prescribing IMT.

POWERbreathe IMT is an evidence-based, non-invasive asthma treatment. In fact, it is the amount of medical research behind the rigorous assessment that led to the POWERbreathe Medic being made available for prescription on the NHS. It offers people with asthma a clinically-proven method of reducing symptoms and putting them in control of their asthma.

Research shows that after only 3-weeks of IMT, asthma symptoms improve by up to 75%. Furthermore, patients with asthma experience improvement of symptoms, quality of life and a reduction in the consumption of medication of up to 79%.

In fact, three separate studies show an average 51% reduction in β2-agonist consumption (from 3.9 to 1.6 puffs per day) after IMT. One study also shows a decrease in corticosteroid use ~80%.

Finally, longer observations show that 6-months of IMT reduces absence from school/work (by ~95%) and use of healthcare resources (by ~75%).

S-Index assessment improves inspiratory muscle performance

S-Index stands for Strength-Index. It is one of the POWERbreathe K-Series’ test modes. Its purpose is to calculate inspiratory muscle strength based upon peak inspiratory flow.

Peak Inspiratory Flow (PIF)

We can evaluate improvements in inspiratory muscle strength by monitoring changes in a person’s peak inspiratory flow.

Peak Inspiratory Flow is a measure which reflects the ability of the inspiratory muscles (the muscles we use to breathe in) to contract rapidly and overcome the inherent resistance and elastance of the respiratory system.

Another of the K-Series’ test modes is the measurement of maximal inspiratory pressure (MIP). In fact, MIP is the most common measure in use for gauging inspiratory muscle strength. It is used as a diagnostic tool and an independent predictor of all-cause mortality.

Purpose of study

Currently, the most common test for assessing inspiratory muscle performance is the maximum ‘quasi-static’ inspiratory pressure (PImax).

However, the K-Series’ S-Index test has since become available for ‘dynamically’ evaluating the maximum inspiratory pressure.

In fact, it is suggested that the S-Index might be more appropriate for measuring inspiratory muscle performance than PImax.

Therefore, this study investigates this premise. It also assesses its reliability and whether an inspiratory muscle warm-up effects strength—index assessment.

Measurement validity of the K-Series

There are, in fact, current studies that have independently verified the measurement validity of the K-Series. Consequently, findings from these previous studies demonstrate its accuracy to measure dynamic inspiratory muscle pressure 1,2.

Therefore, this study feels that a proper assessment and the reliability of the S-Index should be addressed. In particular, it investigates the variability in response to repeated measurements. Furthermore, it evaluates whether an inspiratory muscle warm-up effects strength-index assessment. It is investigating whether using strength-index assessment improves clinical outcomes by reducing the bias effect.

Reliable values of the S-Index

What this study demonstrates is that at least 8 inspiratory manoeuvres are necessary to reach maximum and reliable values of the S-Index. Moreover, it also shows that specific inspiratory muscle warm-up could improve inspiratory muscle performance.

The authors believe this to be the first study to evaluate S-Index reliability in healthy subjects. Furthermore, they believe it to be the first study to investigate the effect of inspiratory warm-up in strength-index assessment.

In conclusion, inspiratory muscle warm-up should be used for detecting the true maximum values of the S-Index to evaluate the performance of inspiratory muscles for any intervention.

Assessment of Maximum Dynamic Inspiratory Pressure >

References

  1. Measurement validity of an electronic inspiratory loading device during a loaded breathing task in patients with COPD
  2. Repeated-Sprint Cycling Does Not Induce Respiratory Muscle Fatigue in Active Adults: Measurements from The POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Trainer