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The Research: Benefits of Deep Breathing

Unlocking Optimal Athletic Performance

Deep breathing isn’t just for meditation or relaxation. For athletes, it offers a subtle yet impactful way to enhance performance. It’s often overlooked, but if you’re aiming to improve in your sport, taking a moment to focus on your breath might just be the edge you need.

Deep breathing is proven to boost performance through increased oxygen intake. Elevated oxygen levels are vital for muscles, especially pivotal ones like the intercostal muscles, ensuring they function optimally even during intense workouts.

Furthermore, deep breathing not only enhances overall performance but also diminishes sensations of breathlessness. This allows athletes to sustain their top performance levels for extended periods. On the mental front, deep breathing helps anchor the mind, alleviating anxiety and sharpening focus.

Research Highlights

Enhancing Distance Running Through Inspiratory Muscle Warm-Up:

  • Study Overview: A research study led by Barnes and Ludge in 2021 delved into the potential of inspiratory muscle warm-ups to enhance distance running performance.
  • The Outcome: Participants who utilized deep breathing exercises as part of their warm-up achieved an average improvement of 20.4 seconds in their 3,200-m run performance. This progress was accompanied by increased inspiratory muscle functionality and decreased breathlessness during the run.

Ventilatory Variables & The Secret to Endurance in Marathon Runners:

  • Study Overview: This study focused on the connection between deep breathing variables and the oxygenation of the intercostal muscles in marathon runners during high-intensity exercise.
  • The Outcome: The research found that marathon runners who were skilled in maintaining oxygenation in their intercostal muscles also had improved lung ventilation and respiratory rates, especially during intense workouts. Moreover, at elevated exercise intensities, these muscles retained more oxygen than even the primary running muscles.

 

Scientific Research — 1

Intercostal Muscles Oxygenation and Breathing Pattern during Exercise in Competitive Marathon Runners.

Source

 [Int J Environ Res Public Health] 2021 Aug 05; Vol. 18 (16). Date of Electronic Publication: 2021 Aug 05.

Background

The study aimed to evaluate the association between the changes in ventilatory variables (tidal volume (Vt), respiratory rate (RR) and lung ventilation (V.E)) and deoxygenation of m.intescostales (∆SmO 2 – m.intercostales ) during a maximal incremental exercise in 19 male high-level competitive marathon runners. The ventilatory variables and oxygen consumption (V.O 2 ) were recorded breath-by-breath by exhaled gas analysis. A near-infrared spectroscopy device (MOXY ® ) located in the right-hemithorax allowed the recording of SmO 2 – m.intercostales . To explore changes in oxygen levels in muscles with high demand during exercise, a second MOXY ® records SmO 2 – m.vastus laterallis . The triphasic model of exercise intensity was used for evaluating changes in SmO 2 in both muscle groups. 

Conclusion

In high-level competitive marathon runners, the m.intercostales deoxygenation during incremental exercise is directly associated with the aerobic capacity and increased lung ventilation and respiratory rate, but not tidal volume. Moreover, it shows less deoxygenation than m.vastus laterallis at intensities above the aerobic ventilatory threshold.

Competing Interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Scientific Research — 2

Inspiratory Muscle Warm-up Improves 3,200-m Running Performance in Distance Runners.

Source

 [J Strength Cond Res] 2021 Jun 01; Vol. 35 (6), pp. 1739-1747.

Background

 Barnes, KR and Ludge, AR. Inspiratory muscle warm-up improves 3,200-m running performance in distance runners. J Strength Cond Res 35(6): 1739-1747, 2021-This study examined the effects of an inspiratory muscle exercise as part of a warm-up (IMW) using a resisted breathing trainer on running performance. In a randomized crossover design, 17 trained distance runners completed two 3,200-m performance trials on separate days, preceded by 2 different warm-up procedures: IMW or sham IMW (CON). In each condition, subjects performed 30 breaths against either 50% of each athlete’s peak strength (IMW) or 30 slow protracted breaths against negligible resistance (CON). Perceived race readiness and inspiratory muscle strength, flow, power, and volume were measured before and after each warm-up. Heart rate (HR), rating of perceived exertion (RPE) and dyspnea (RPD), and expired gases were collected during each trial. A 3,200-m run performance was 2.8% ± 1.5% (20.4-second) faster after IMW (effect size [ES] = 0.37, p = 0.02). 

Conclusion

Overall, the data suggest that IMW improves 3,200-m performance because of enhancements in inspiratory muscle function characteristics and reduction in dyspnea.

Competing Interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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