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’ >

Breathing exercises beneficial to basketball players

In a recent Q&A session with the National Basketball Players Association, American professional basketball player Kelly Oubre Jr. who plays for the Washington Wizards talked about the breathing exercises his skills coach has added to his training, saying, “Breathing is big for me because I’m not really the best breather, so the exercise that he puts me through allows me to use my muscles more, allows me to open up. Breathing is a big deal as far as body movement, so that’s what I’m trying to work on in here.”

POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training is beneficial in all sports for improving the strength of the breathing muscles, including the diaphragm and intercostal muscles. When the inspiratory muscles tire they divert blood from other hard working muscles (like the arms and legs) which limits performance. But after training with POWERbreathe IMT whole body effort is reduced and endurance improved.

The diaphragm and other trunk muscles also play a key role in maintaining postural stability. During conditions of dual respiratory and postural demand, the respiratory drive overwhelms the postural demand; this may jeopardise postural stability and increase the risk of spinal injury. So we can see how training the breathing muscles to become stronger and more resistant to fatigue can be beneficial in all sports not only for improving performance and reducing risk of injury, but also for postural demand, such as the twists and turns required in basketball.

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