Swimmer

Improving sports performance

Breathing and its related muscles, can be a significant factor in the training and results of any sports person.

Any inappropriate breathing which is persistent enough to cause symptoms, with no apparent organic cause is considered a breathing pattern disorder and can be acute or chronic.  Once this pattern of breathing becomes the norm it can exist on it’s own accord or with a trigger.

In the athlete, an inefficient breathing pattern during performance can cause breathlessness or lower limb fatigue that doesn’t match with their fitness or any illness/pain etc.

If an abnormal pattern is present at rest, this too can impair performance as the ability to increase breathing in relation to demand will be limited.

Some athletes (or not so athletes..) are also give a diagnoses of exercise induced asthma when they are breathless on high exertion.  This may be the case but there are other conditions which mimic this or worsen it.  Vocal Cord Dysfunction (VCD - where the vocal cords work in the wrong direction causing an inability to inhale and voice changes) and 

Exercise Induced Laryngeal obstruction (EILO - where the larynx spasms under exertion also causing difficulty with breathing especially the inhale) are two that I see frequently.

Even without a condition, if breathing habits are developed that are great for the activity but then can't change to baseline normal afterwards, the athlete can have issues.

Pressure on performance can also alter breathing pattern and cause increased breathlessness or fatigue.