My thoughts on breathing...
A bit more information as it occurs to me about how breathing impacts your health and well-being. If you have questions or want me to address a particular topic, please don't hesitate to contact me!
There is increasing evidence about the benefits of inspiratory muscle training on overall health. A number of studies have looked at IMT to help with sleep apnea, blood pressure, reflux disease, cardiovascular fitness, cognitive function and balance.
A very exciting study to come out of the University of Colorado had participants do 6 weeks of high intensity IMT - a few minutes per day of breathing into an inspiratory muscle trainer. While they were initially looking at the effects of IMT on obstructive sleep apnea, they found that participants had reductions in blood pressure and improvements in cognitive function. This has fuelled a more in-depth project to look at the effects of IMT on blood pressure. You can read more on this study here.
Early on in the Covid19 pandemic, Cardiorespiratory Physical Therapy Specialist Rich Severin co-authored a paper looking at the role of respiratory muscle weakness in poor clinical outcomes of respiratory infection. He noted that reduced respiratory muscle strength was common in individuals with poor health and in particular, obesity, and this weakness may lead to increased medical intervention requirements in the wake of respiratory infection. Thea authors suggested that "in patients identified as having respiratory muscle impairments, respiratory muscle training may prove valuable in mitigating the health impact of future pandemics." You can read his study here.
There is also an increasing amount of studies looking at the benefits of IMT to help manage gastro-esophageal reflux disease (acid reflux) one of the most common diseases. It seems that improving diaphragm function also improves the function of the sphincter between the stomach and esophagus, thus reducing reflux. Click here for an abstract of a recent study on IMT and reflux.
Why are we seeing these benefits of training the respiratory muscles? A lot of it comes down to the function of the diaphragm, which extends beyond just breathing. It has roles in:
Stay tuned for our next blog looking at the effect of IMT on balance!
I'm a physiotherapist who is passionate about educating anyone and everyone about the impact breathing has on our health.