Patricia Carswell, a.k.a Girl on the River, recently won ‘Highly Commended 2017’ for Sports and Fitness at the UK Blog Awards. She’s a freelance journalist and specialises in health, fitness and lifestyle. Furthermore she enjoys rowing, and it is thanks to a fellow rower and POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) user that we got in touch with Patricia.
Rowing-induced lung burn
After completing her first erg sprint of the season Patricia Tweeted about the burning sensation she felt in her lungs. Her friend, rower Lewin Hynes, medalist from the British and English Indoor Rowing Championships and POWERbreathe IMT user suggested she use POWERbreathe IMT to help.
Thanks to Lewin we got in touch with Patricia and suggested she use the POWERbreathe Plus MR. And as a highly commended blogger, whose blog is rated in the Top 50 Rowing Blogs, we understood that she would provide an honest insight into her experience of using POWERbreathe IMT. Consequently we provided Patricia with a POWERbreathe Plus MR to review.
How POWERbreathe IMT helped rower Patricia
Patricia began her POWERbreathe IMT as she prepared for regatta season. And after 4 weeks of training (IMT takes effect between 4-6 weeks) she published her review in the form of a blog at Girl on the River:
Improves rowing time trial performance by up to 2.2%, equivalent to slashing 60m in a 2km race
Significantly improves rowing performance and reduces breathlessness in competitive rowers following a POWERbreathe warm-up
Increases strength of inspiratory muscles by 30 – 50%
POWERbreathe drills for specific indoor rower training
Lewin Hynes is a medalist from the British and EIRC and POWERbreathe IMT user himself. And to benefit other rowers he demonstrated a few POWERbreathe drills he uses while training. You can watch them here on the POWERbreathe YouTube channel.
“This study investigated the effect of 4 week of inspiratory (IMT) or expiratory muscle training (EMT), as well as the effect of a subsequent 6 week period of combined IMT/EMT on rowing performance in club-level oarsmen.”
“There were no significant additional changes following combined IMT/EMT. IMT improved rowing performance, but EMT and subsequent combined IMT/EMT did not.”
“The aim of the investigation was to assess the effects of the resistive inspiratory muscle training (IMT) in elite male rowers.”
“The data obtained corroborate the observations that in well-trained athletes the introduction of the principle of incremental inspiratory resistance allows to improve methodically the inspiratory muscles’ strength. Once the essential period of IMT has been completed, the training volume should be reduced in order to secure the attained level of the inspiratory muscles’ strength.”
After talking a little about the physiology of the respiratory system, Professor Alison McConnell emphasises why a good breathing techniques is at the centre of good rowing technique and explains why respiratory limitations to exercise have achieved newfound credibility within sport science.
Professor McConnell goes on to provide information about how breathing and rowing interact and then looks in more detail at the physiological limits imposed by breathing as well as the lesser know mechanical limitations.
“The purpose of this study was to test the acute responses to differing pressure threshold inspiratory loading intensities in well-trained rowers.“
“Although all loads elicited a sustained increase in forced capacity, only the 60% load elicited a sustained rise in mean arterial blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and systolic blood pressure, providing evidence for a metaboreflex response at this load.”
Here’s a great photo of the Romanian Olympic Rowing senior team training with POWERbreathe IMT devices at the end of their V02 testing, respiratory muscle training and psychology program.
Coach Dorin Alupei encourages sport-specific training, tailoring workouts for the effort needed within each type of sport, and in this instance, for rowing, where breathing can reach maximal levels.
The synchronisation between breathing and locomotion while rowing pushes breathing to its limits.
As a rower in a 2000m race you will be breathing twice per stroke; breathing out during the initial part of the drive (when the blade is in the water), taking a breath as you reach the end of the drive, breathing out again as you come forward and taking a small breath just before ‘the catch’. This small breath at the catch is vitally important in terms of allowing the optimal transmission of force from your body through the blade and into the water; the muscles of your torso brace against a partially inflated lung.
Your torso muscles include your breathing muscles, and it’s pretty difficult to brace your upper body and breathe at the same time, so you have to work your breathing in around the stroke rate.
POWERbreathe inspiratory muscle training (IMT) specifically targets the breathing muscles, and has been shown to:
Improve rowing time trial performance by up to 2.2% – equivalent to slashing 60m in a 2km race
Increase strength of inspiratory muscles by 30 – 50%
Improve rowing performance and reduce breathlessness in competitive rowers after a POWERbreathe warm-up
Arend M, Mäestu J, Kivastik J, Rämson R, Jürimäe J
“Performing inspiratory muscle warm-up might increase exercise performance. The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of inspiratory muscle warm-up to submaximal rowing performance and to find if there is an effect on lactic acid accumulation and breathing parameters. Performing inspiratory muscle warm-up might increase exercise performance.
The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of inspiratory muscle warm-up to submaximal rowing performance and to find if there is an effect on lactic acid accumulation and breathing parameters.
Ten competitive male rowers between 19 and 27 years of age (age 23.1±3.8 yrs; height 188.1±6.3cm; body mass 85.6±6.6 kg) were tested three times. During the first visit maximal inspiratory pressure (MIP) assessment and the incremental rowing test were carried out to measure maximal oxygen consumption and maximal aerobic power (Pamax). A submaximal intensity (90% Pamax) rowing test was carried out twice with the standard rowing warm-up as Test 1 and with the standard rowing warm-up and specific inspiratory muscle warm-up as Test 2.
During the two experimental tests, distance, duration, heart rate, breathing frequency, ventilation, peak oxygen consumption and blood lactate concentration were measured.
The only value that showed a significant difference between the Test 1 and Test 2 was breathing frequency (52.2±6.8 vs 53.1±6.8, respectively). Heart rate and ventilation showed a tendency to decrease and increase respectively after the inspiratory muscle warm-up (p<0.1). Despite some changes in respiratory parameters the use of 40% MIP intensity warm-up is not suggested if the mean intensity of the competition is at submaximal level (at approximately 90% VO2max). In conclusion, the warm-up protocol of the respiratory muscles used in this study does not have a significant influence on submaximal endurance performance in highly trained male rowers.
This morning (9th July) the Slovenian National Rowing Team left for Rowing World Lucerne 2014 (11-13th July) and the start of the final round of the World Rowing Cup 2014 on the Rotsee where competition will be fierce and medal winning will no doubt be decided in the last few meters.
Friday 11th will see the Heats and the Quarter-Finals. Saturday 12th will be the Semi-Finals and B Finals of non-Olympic categories. Sunday 13th July will see the A Finals of non-Olympic categories and A Finals of Olympic categories.
Before the Slovenian National Rowing Team left for Rowing World Lucerne, POWERbreathe Slovenia & Croatia met up again with their Coach, Milos, because during the previous day (8th July) the whole team had their breathing tested using the POWERbreathe K5 with Breathe-Link software. After a long chat with Milos, it was decided that each rower would benefit from keeping a copy of their POWERbreathe test report, so that they can monitor their own improvements over the period in the run-up to the World Championships.
The 2014 Rowing World Championshipstake place in August, and as the team are now incorporating POWERbreathe into their regular preparations for this main event, it was agreed that POWERbreathe Slovenia & Croatia would meet up with the team again in early August to repeat the tests and monitor each rowers performance – and maybe develop individual training protocols. You can read more about this in our previous blog, POWERbreathe and the National Slovenian Rowing Team.
You can view photos taken of the some of the rowers testing their breathing on the K5 using the Breathe-Link software, and of the day POWERbreathe Slovenia & Croatia presented POWERbreathe, on our Facebook page.
On June 9th our friends and distributor POWERbreathe Slovenia, IntAct Ljubljana, organised a POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training Seminar for the National Slovenian Rowing Team, at the Olympic Sport Center at Bled Lake.
The science behind POWERbreathe and IMT was presented not only to the rowing team themselves, but also to the main coaches of the Slo Rowing Team and Slovenian Cross Country Combined.
Two of the top rowers in the national team (Zupan) who recently achieved their best results in the European Championships (elite men) in Belgrade, had their breathing strength tested using the POWERbreathe K5 with Breathe-Link software. Needless to say it created a lot of interest that prompted further discussion about inspiratory muscle strength, flow and volume, resulting in a better understanding of why training these breathing muscles is of benefit.
After discussing the results of the tests, national coach Milos Jansa also took the S-Index test on the K5 and was impressed to see his own results instantly on screen. He – and the team – agreed that using POWERbreathe IMT made real sense, and were impressed with the scientific trials that showed:
IMT improved rowing time trial performance by up to 2.2%, equivalent to slashing 60m in a 2km race
IMT increased strength of inspiratory muscles by 30 – 50%
A POWERbreathe warm-up significantly improved rowing performance and reduced breathlessness in a competitive rower
After the seminar, POWERbreathe Slovenia were invited to stay and discuss POWERbreathe further, with the day finishing on a very promising note for the team, as their coach decided that his team would incorporate POWERbreathe into their preparations for the World Championships taking place at the end of August 2014.