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Controlled Frequency Breathing Reduces Inspiratory Muscle Fatigue

Burtch AR, Ogle BT, Sims PA, Harms CA, Symons TB, Folz RJ, Zavorsky GS. Controlled Frequency Breathing Reduces Inspiratory Muscle Fatigue. J Strength Cond Res. 2016 Aug. PubMed #27537410.
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PainSci summary of Burtch 2016?This page is one of thousands in the bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★★☆☆?3-star ratings are for typical studies with no more (or less) than the usual common problems. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.

This was a test of a slow, controlled breathing pattern in competitive college swimmers: “controlled frequency breathing” is basically breathing slower, just 2-3 breaths per 50 metre lap of swimming. Swimmers who trained this way were more resistant to respiratory fatigue, but it had no other effect on performance.

~ Paul Ingraham

original abstract

Controlled frequency breathing (CFB) is a common swim training modality involving holding one's breath for about 7 to 10 strokes before taking another breath. We sought to examine the effects of CFB training on reducing respiratory muscle fatigue. Competitive college swimmers were randomly divided into either the CFB group that breathed every 7 to 10 strokes, or a control group that breathed every 3-4 strokes. Twenty swimmers completed the study. The training intervention included 5-6 weeks (16 sessions) of 12x50-m repetitions with breathing 8-10 breaths per 50m (control group), or 2-3 breaths per 50-m (CFB group). Inspiratory muscle fatigue was defined as the decrease in maximal inspiratory mouth-pressure (MIP) between rest and 46s after a 200 yard free-style swimming race [115s (SD 7)]. Aerobic capacity, pulmonary diffusing capacity, and running economy were also measured pre and post-training. Pooled results demonstrated a 12% decrease in MIP at 46s post-race [-15 (SD 14) cm H2O, Effect size = -0.48, p < 0.01]. After four weeks of training, only the CFB group prevented a decline in MIP values pre to 46 s post-race [-2 (13) cm H2O, p> 0.05]. However, swimming performance, aerobic capacity, pulmonary diffusing capacity, and running economy did not improve (p> 0.05) post-training in either group. In conclusion, CFB training appears to prevent inspiratory muscle fatigue yet no difference was found in performance outcomes.

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