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 >

Dr Langer and POWERbreathe IMT in Japan

POWERbreathe International Ltd and Entry Japan KK, our official distributor partner, recently welcomed Dr Daniel Langer from Leuven University Hospital to Japan.

More About Dr Langer

Dr Langer is a member of the academic and teaching staff for the Research Group for Rehabilitation in Internal Disorders at KU Leuven University. It is the largest and highest-ranking university in Belgium. And last month he took time away from his academic and research commitments to travel to Japan to present Inspiratory Muscle Training at medical and sports workshops.

Langer’s Respiratory Research

Dr Langer is a member of Professor Rik Gosselink’s team, working on research projects for the Respiratory Rehabilitation Research Unit at KU Leuven. In fact, Dr Langer, under the supervision of Professor Gosselink, researched The effects of resistance training of the inspiratory muscles in patients with COPD. This is a multicentre study that investigates the effects of inspiratory muscle training in addition to pulmonary rehabilitation on exercise-related outcomes, symptoms and physical activity in patients with COPD.

Dr Langer is currently researching respiratory muscle training in chronic and acute respiratory conditions. As a result, his workshops in Japan were extremely well attended.

Respiratory workshops

Respiratory Workshops

It is through these workshops that Dr Langer shares his extensive knowledge and experience. This is in the area of Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) / Respiratory Muscle Training (RMT). Each of the workshops is very well attended with delegates showing much interest in learning more about IMT/RMT.

National Olympics Memorial Center, Tokyo

Here Daniel Langer presents a one day Sports Science Seminar to 75 delegates.  View photo album

Japan Society for Respiratory Care & Rehabilitation

This two-day conference in Sendai is the 27th Annual Meeting of the society. Most noteworthy is that it welcomed almost 1000 delegates over the two days. View photo album

Tokyo University

The university welcomes Daniel Langer to over 50 delegates as he presented his IMT workshop. View photo album

Since his return, Dr Langer is already initiating some interesting collaborations based on the results of his visit. In addition, we will continue our commitment to supporting the research conducted at KU Leuven University. And it goes without saying, that we are very grateful and proud for his support of POWERbreathe IMT/RMT.

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.


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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