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’ >

Common causes of dyspnoea in athletes

This article published in the European Respiratory Society’s June issue of Breathe explains how dyspnoea, (shortness of breath or breathlessness), during exercise is a common complaint in seemingly otherwise healthy athletes, and which may be associated with fatigue and underperformance. As dyspnoea may be caused by numerous factors, from poor aerobic fitness to serious, potentially fatal respiratory and nonrespiratory pathologies, the article explains why it is important for clinicians to obtain an appropriate case history and ask relevant exercise-specific questions to fully characterise the nature of the complaint so that a targeted diagnostic plan can be developed for the athlete. The article looks into asthma and exercise-induced bronchoconstriction, and exercise-induced laryngeal obstruction and vocal cord dysfunction, the most common treatments for which have included diaphragmatic breathing control. Even for those athletes experiencing expiratory flow limitation it is suggested that this could be overcome through controlled breathing methods or respiratory muscle training.

POWERbreathe respiratory muscle training (RMT) strengthens the breathing muscles, improving their stamina and reducing fatigue. POWERbreathe RMT has been clinically proven to reduce dyspnoea during exercise and daily activities, as well as improving exercise tolerance and quality of life particularly in patients with COPD (see References below.).

Read the full, free article in Breathe: Common causes of dyspnoea in athletes: a practical approach for diagnosis and management References:

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How To Avoid Stitch

During fitness and sports activities it’s not uncommon to experience stitch – that uncomfortable feeling in your side which can cause you to slow down and impair your performance. But stitch has been linked to breathing problems and is considered to be a muscle spasm of the diaphragm and the ligaments that support it. An article in Runner’s World addressed this problem for new runners who were having problems with their breathing and consequently suffering from stitch. The article explains how these muscle spasms and stitch “are thought to occur from the strain and fatigue associated with the increased workload of accelerated breathing from exercise.” There is a particular type of training that will help alleviate this breathing fatigue, inspiratory muscle training. POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training devices (breathing trainers) exercise the muscles you use to breathe in, the inspiratory muscles. It works by adding a resistance to your breath as you breathe in through the device – like dumbbells for your diaphragm. As your breathing muscles become stronger you increase the resistance, so you’re always challenging them, and specifically targeting them. Increased breathing strength results in an increase in breathing stamina too and a reduction in breathing fatigue. So in regard to stitch resulting from breathing fatigue, POWERbreathe IMT devices offer the very solution to help make these a distant memory. Not only that but because of your increased breathing strength and stamina, you’ll be able to run, cycle, swim, ski etc farther for longer and with less effort!

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Effects Of IMT on Respiratory Function And Repetitive Sprint Performance In Wheelchair Basketball Players

“There is considerable evidence that respiratory muscle training improves pulmonary function, quality of life and exercise performance in healthy athletic populations. The benefits for wheelchair athletes are less well understood. This study examined the influence of inspiratory muscle training (IMT) upon respiratory function and repetitive propulsive sprint performance in wheelchair basketball players.”


“Although there was no improvement in sprint performance, participants in both the IMT and sham-IMT reported an improved respiratory muscle function and quality of life.”

Read Effects of inspiratory muscle training on respiratory function and repetitive sprint performance in wheelchair basketball players >

POWERbreathe and Liz McTernan, Para-Triathlete

POWERbreathe met up with Para-Triathlete Liz McTernan at the University of Lincoln, along with the University’s Senior Lecturer in Sports Science, Dr Sandy Willmott.

Liz, who’s based in Lincolnshire, is a world ranked Paracyclist and world Para-Triathlon Bronze Medalist 2012.

Liz took up the sport after faulty diving equipment gave her a severe case of the bends and bubbles of air damaged her spinal cord, lungs and other muscles. The bends occurs when dissolved gases (mainly nitrogen) come out of solution in bubbles which can affect just about any area of the body, including the joints, lungs, heart, skin and brain.

Paracycling, or handcycling, is a major Paralympic discipline, having gained significant public attention at the London 2012 Olympics and features four different sports divisions: C for Cycling, H for Handbike, T for Tricycle and B for blind or visually impaired.

Liz competes in a Tricycle, with the three wheels providing more balance, and in addition to her usual training Liz will be incorporating POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training into her routine as part of her preparation for the World Championships and the land speed record she’s going to attempt this year.

Liz will be using the POWERbreathe K5 with Breathe-Link live feedback software to exercise her breathing muscles to make them stronger, because as with any high-intensity exercise, such as rowing and hand-cycling, the high respiratory demand in these sports ‘steals’ blood from other working muscles, and in Liz’s case her arms, reducing her overall performance. So by using POWERbreathe to subject her inspiratory muscles to an appropriate training resistance, Liz’s breathing muscles will adapt, increasing in their strength, power and stamina for an improved performance.

Read more about breathing effort in wheelchair sports >

GB Boccia team’s POWERbreathe progress report

In April we were honoured to meet the GB Boccia team and coaches to whom we presented POWERbreathe.

The team members and coaches were interested to see how inspiratory muscle training with POWERbreathe could help them with their breathing in general but also with their core trunk strength and posture for an improved sports performance. The athletes informed of us how their breathing can be impeded from sitting in the wheelchair while playing the sport, and how they felt that strengthening their breathing muscles could help their physical health as well as their sports performance. You can read more about our first visit to meet the team in our blog, POWERbreathe Training for GB Boccia Team.

During our previous visit we tested each team member’s inspiratory strength, flow and volume using the POWERbreathe K5 with Breathe-Link Software and left them each with a POWERbreathe Plus model of their own to use for daily training. Well on the 12th June we were delighted to meet up with the team again and run follow-up tests to see if they’d improved – and to see if they’d all stuck to their training of 30 breaths twice a day.

As before we were warmly welcomed and it was great to see the team and coaches again. We tested each team member on the K5 using the Breathe-Links software and found extremely encouraging results. Each and every athlete had improved his or her Strength-Index, Volume and Flow rates!

Three of the athletes found using POWERbreathe on its own a little difficult to use, so we provided each of them with a respiratory mask to help make it easier and more comfortable, and it meant that they too could continue with their daily training.

We are so grateful to the Boccia team and their coaches for making us feel welcome, and delighted that they each were able to actually see the improvements they’ve made for themselves. We look forward to reporting back on their continued improvement when we meet up with them again.

Read more about POWERbreathe for Wheelchair Sports, or if you already compete in a wheelchair sport then please leave a comment here or on the POWERbreathe Forum, Facebook or Twitter pages. You can also read about how POWERbreathe has been used by other wheelchair athletes in our Wheelchair Sports blog.

POWERbreathe training for GB Boccia Team

You may have read in our previous blog, GB Olympic Boccia Team Physios impressed by POWERbreathe about our meeting in February with the GB Olympic Boccia team physios and British Paralympic athlete Nigel Murray MBE.

Well since then we’ve had the privilege of being invited to meet the entire GB Boccia team and their coaches, at the Forthbank Performance Sport Centre in the heart of Stirling Sports Village.

We presented POWERbreathe to the coaches and Boccia team who were interested in seeing how inspiratory muscle training with POWERbreathe could help the team with their breathing in general as wheelchair athletes, but also with their core trunk strength and posture for an improved sports performance. It was a really interesting meeting with mutual benefit, as we learnt from the athletes themselves about how they feel their breathing can be impeded from sitting in the wheelchair and how they felt that strengthening their breathing muscles could help their physical health as well as their sports performance.

We took a few photos of the team and coaches trying out the K5 which you can see in the GB Boccia Team album on Facebook.

The Boccia team sports coaches were already very knowledgeable about the respiratory system and the role of breathing in exercise and were therefore quick to understand how POWERbreathe works. They themselves then were able to explain in more detail about the fundamentals of improving breathing strength and stamina to the athletes.

The team and coaches were able to test their own breathing strength using the POWERbreathe K5 with Breathe-Link Software and see their results in real-time on screen. Each team member has been provided with a POWERbreathe Plus model so that they can begin their inspiratory muscle training immediately and begin to feel the benefit within the next 4-6 weeks.

We’ll be visiting the team again to see how they’re getting on with their training, but in the meantime read more about POWERbreathe for Wheelchair Sports, or if you already compete in a wheelchair sport then please leave a comment here or on the POWERbreathe Forum, Facebook or Twitter pages.

GB Olympic Boccia Team Physios impressed by POWERbreathe

POWERbreathe were invited to meet up with EIS (English Institute of Sport) Boccia team physios, Dawn Ibrahim from EIS Sheffield and Bob Smith (Conditioning consultant coach) from Loughborough along with one of their players, Nigel Murray MBE, at Nigel’s local gym, Nuffield Fitness & Wellbeing Centre in Warwick.

The purpose of the meeting was to allow British Paralympic athlete Nigel to test out the POWERbreathe K5 with Breathe-Link software. Nigel is a seven times national champion and triple Paralympic medal winner in the sport of Boccia.

Boccia, like bowls, is a highly tactical and very accurate target ball sport and although originally created for people with cerebral palsy, is now played by athletes with severe disabilities that affect their motor skills. It can be played by individuals, pairs or teams of three. To be eligible to compete at this top level, athletes must be in a wheelchair, as a result of cerebral palsy, or another neurological condition that has similar effects, such as muscular dystrophy or traumatic brain injury.

The aim of Boccia is to throw leather balls as close to a target ball, or jack, as possible, using hands, feet or sometimes an assisted device. At the end of each round the distance from the balls to the jack is measured and points awarded accordingly with the winner being the player with the highest number of points.

Because athletes are in a wheelchair while playing this sport, breathing can be an added challenge. When part of the body is misaligned, through injury or other conditions, a whole host of problems can arise for someone who’s seated all day, including improper breathing and imbalance. When the main trunk of an athlete’s body is balanced, they can reach to play without losing balance and they’re able to propel their wheelchair efficiently. Poor posture in the wheelchair, such as rounded shoulders and back, will also interfere with looking up, reaching, breathing and digestion, so a strong trunk/core and good posture can all help to improve breathing.

POWERbreathe can not only help improve breathing in wheelchair athletes, but it can also help improve their core trunk strength and posture – all of which can help these Boccia athletes improve their performance. Deep breathing training with POWERbreathe will help to fully inflate the lungs and puts the respiratory muscles and chest wall through a good range of movement and allows the rib cage to expand optimally.

So we can understand why the GB Olympic Boccia Team Physios started looking into POWERbreathe, and we’re delighted to be providing POWERbreathe training to the team at their next meeting.

Read more about POWERbreathe for Wheelchair Sports, or if you already compete in a wheelchair sport then please leave a comment here or on the POWERbreathe Forum, Facebook or Twitter pages.