A team of researchers has suggested a set of breathing techniques to help athletes overcome vocal cord dysfunction and improve performance during high-intensity exercise.
The findings indicated that vocal cord dysfunction, also referred to as exercise-induced laryngeal obstruction (EILO), have been shown to improve for athletes after being trained to use the new techniques.
The use of real-time video data from a continuous laryngoscopy allowed the researchers to design a series of three breathing techniques that help athletes open their obstructed airways during high-intensity exercise.
The three breathing techniques are:
Tongue Variant- The "tongue variant" involves breathing evenly between the nose and mouth.
Tooth Variant- The "tooth variant" requires patients to generate high inhaling resistance by forcibly taking air in through their teeth, then quickly opening their mouth allowing air to flow freely.
Lip Variant-The third variant is the "lip variant" in which air is initially inhaled through pursed lips and then the mouth is abruptly opened, dropping resistance and allowing air to rush through the mouth.
Each of the breathing techniques described in the research focus on precisely and intentionally changing airflow during the inhalation part of breathing.
"These new breathing techniques could represent a breakthrough for athletes seeking help with breathing during training and competition," said senior author J. Tod Olin from National Jewish Health in Denver in the U.S.
EILO is characterised by involuntary and inappropriate closure of the upper airway during high-intensity exercise.
EILO causes shortness-of-breath during exercise and reduces exercise performance and can negatively affect an athlete's ability to exercise and perform.
An episode of EILO can be noisy and terrifying to patients and observers of episodes.
It is diagnosed by observing the upper airway with a flexible camera inserted in the airway during an episode.
The new breathing techniques, now named the Olin Exercise-Induced Laryngeal Obstruction Biphasic Inspiration Techniques (EILOBI), were developed and introduced by Dr. Olin, and are the subject of the research.
Nearly all of the subjects had received some form of respiratory retraining before learning one or more of the Olin EILOBI techniques.
The findings indicated that two-thirds of the participants reported the techniques were effective in treating symptoms, while 79 percent confirmed they can be implemented during a variety of sporting activities.
Additionally, 82 percent positively evaluated the teaching process.
The research appears in online issue of the Journal of Voice.