Running performance improves with deeper breathing

An article in the October 2016 edition of Runner’s World UK says you can boost your running performance with each breath you take. But you have to choose the right type of training. And that is training that gets oxygen to where you need it.

Improving running performance starts with your breathing

Breathing training will help you with this. It helps you to get oxygen into your legs and will help avoid breathlessness from the start. In fact Dr John Dickinson recommends you pay attention to your breathing before you even start running. Dr Dickinson is Head of the Respiratory Clinic at the University of Kent.

Warm-up your breathing muscles

A research study(1) has found that a standard pre-exercise warm-up routine will fail to prepare the breathing muscles for the rigours of exercise. And not warming up the breathing muscles will lead to excessive breathlessness as you start running.

Improve the muscles that inflate your lungs

Strengthening your inspiratory muscles is something that is suggested in the article. Because it is not possible to train the lungs or grow more alveoli (where gas exchange takes place), this is the one thing you can do. By training the inspiratory muscles you’ll be able to get more air into your lungs.

POWERbreathe IMT recommended in article

One of the author’s of the article suggests practising more efficient diaphragmatic breathing through inspiratory muscle training. It mentions ‘the popular’ POWERbreathe. POWERbreathe is an Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) device. The article goes on to say how in studies POWERbreathe improved inspiratory muscle strength by 31% and inspiratory muscle endurance by 27%. It also states how POWERbreathe also improved recovery during repeated sprints by 7%.

How breathing better improves running performance

Research and trials(2,3) suggest that during heavy exercise, blood flow (and therefore oxygen delivery) to your exercising muscles is inversely related to respiratory work. This means that your inspiratory muscles are capable of stealing blood from your other working muscles. This in turn will impair your performance. Other research on inspiratory muscle training (IMT) and exercise performance reveals a reduction in whole body effort sensation. This means that after 4-weeks of IMT, people didn’t feel they were exercising as hard and were therefore able to push themselves that bit further. Because of this they were increasing their training intensity and ultimately their performance.

POWERbreathe IMT improves running performance

When you use POWERbreathe IMT to subject your inspiratory muscles, mainly your diaphragm and intercostals to an appropriate training resistance, they will adapt. They will increase in strength, power and stamina. And although running will strengthen your diaphragm to a degree, “you don’t get the results you get with inspiratory training”, says Dr Graham Sharpe. ‘The most accessible method is a device such as POWERbreathe’, the article says. Dr Graham Sharpe is Principal Lecturer at the School of Science and Technology, Nottingham Trent University.


1 Specific respiratory warm-up improves rowing performance and exertional dyspnoea

2 The influence of inspiratory muscle work history and specific inspiratory muscle training upon human limb muscle fatigue

3 Effect of inspiratory muscle work on peripheral fatigue of locomotor muscles in healthy humans

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TUEs, asthma and athletes

Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) allow an athlete to take medication on WADA’s Prohibited List when competing.

TUEs in the news

TUEs have become a hot topic as a result of the cyber attack leaking WADA data on 29 athletes. It was just after the Rio Olympics. Selected athletes’ medical records are being hacked into by a group from Russia calling themselves Fancy Bears. They were hacking into the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Anti-Doping Administration and Management System (Adams) database. This stores athletes laboratory results, anti-doping rule violations and therapeutic use exemption (TUE) authorisations.

What’s the big deal about TUEs

It is this data hacking into TUEs that is opening our eyes to the number of elite athletes being given permission to use them. It is raising doubt about their use in ‘fair’ competition. People are asking if they are really needed, and if not, are they providing athletes with a performance edge? In fact Dr Ross Tucker refers to the prevalence of corticosteroid use. Athletes will be given this if they experience breathing problems. It is however also considered to be performance-enhancing.

Breathing is an issue in many athletes

The most common breathing condition among elite athletes in endurance sports is asthma. In fact according to Asthma UK 25% of the 2012 Team GB athletics squad suffer from exercise-induced asthma.

Why do so many elite athletes have exercise-induced asthma?

Vigorous exercise and endurance sports such as long-distance running, cross-country skiing and cycling cause problems for people with exercise-induced asthma. This is because it makes them breathe much faster which in turn affects airflow. Dr John Dickinson says such athletes “have an asthma response to doing high-intensity exercise.” He continues, “It’s not necessarily the exercise that’s the problem, but rather the volume of air that they breathe and the amount of time that they stay at this level for.” Dr John Dickinson is a world renowned expert on asthma in sport and head of the respiratory clinic at Kent’s School of Sport and Exercise Science.

TUEs for athletes with asthma

Symptoms of exercise-induced asthma include coughing, wheezing, chest-tightness and difficulty in breathing. Because of this inhaled treatment is allowed. This is only allowed however where asthma is documented and dispensation has been granted when needed. By contrast systemic β2-agonist intake is strictly prohibited.

POWERbreathe IMT can help strengthen breathing

Most importantly for athletes with asthma, POWERbreathe IMT is drug-free. It has no side-effects or drug interactions. POWERbreathe is an Inspiratory Muscle Training device. This means it trains the inspiratory muscles only; the muscles used to breathe in. It’s these muscles that work the hardest, your diaphragm and intercostal muscles.

How POWERbreathe IMT works

You simply breathe in through the device. As you breathe in you’ll feel a resistance to your in-breath. This is the resistance working. As you breathe in against the resistance you are exercising your breathing muscles. Exercising your breathing muscles in this way makes them stronger. It strengthens your breathing muscles just like resistance training strengthens your other muscles. And the more you train the stronger your breathing muscles become. Then you can simply increase the resistance, just as you would in other training, so that you continue to improve.

Scientifically proven training

POWERbreathe IMT is the breathing training device that both sports scientists and medical professionals are using in tests. And it is sports scientists who found the most effective training protocol. Their findings showed that just 30 breaths twice a day is the most effective. They were also to discover that just as other muscles experience the ‘use it or lose it’ phenomenon, so do the breathing muscles.

The benefits of POWERbreathe IMT

POWERbreathe IMT will strengthen your breathing muscles, improve breathing stamina and reduce breathing fatigue. And it will improve sports performance and time trial performance. In fact, POWERbreathe IMT is the device of choice in many scientific studies into its benefits for sports and fitness.

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