Respiration is an important indicator of human health. A healthy person breathes naturally using primary respiratory muscles (such as the diaphragm muscle) that produce the rhythmically observed movement of the upper chest, lower chest, and abdomen. This is known as diaphragmatic breathing, which has been associated with improved posture, core stability and functional performance, as well as a reduction in musculoskeletal, pain and stress.
Conversely, people with altered or dysfunctional biomechanical breathing patterns are unable to reduce their diaphragm to the desired degree and begin to rely on additional respiratory muscles to breathe. They demonstrate excellent chest movement and shoulder elevation, reduced abdominal movements and lateral chest enlargement.
Previous studies suggest a strong association between altered biomechanical respiratory patterns and musculoskeletal development such as low back pain, neck pain, chronic ankle instability, and temporomandibular joint disorders.
High physical performance and prevention of musculoskeletal injuries are crucial for athletes to achieve the best performance in sports competitions. Data from previous studies show that athletes with diaphragmatic breathing demonstrate improved physical and psychological performance. But because athletes with altered respiratory patterns may be at increased risk of musculoskeletal injuries, detecting the prevalence of altered respiratory patterns is extremely important to prevent them from developing injuries.
Now a team of researchers led by Dr. Terado of Ritsumeikan University in Japan has conducted a new study published in Journal of Strength and Conditioning Researchto study the prevalence of dysfunctional and diaphragmatic respiratory patterns in the sports population and to determine the biomechanical dimensions of these respiratory patterns.
In 2017 and 2020, the team tested 1,933 athletes from Japanese schools in a variety of sports and ages using the Hi-Lo test, a test that determines a person’s breathing type. Scores for the Hi-Lo test were determined based on the presence or absence of abdominal excursion, anterior-posterior chest enlargement, upper chest migration, and shoulder lift. The team further classified these participants into thoracic dominant and abdominal abdominal only based on the availability of abdominal excursions.
The results show that an alarmingly high proportion (91%) of athletes exhibited dysfunctional breathing patterns, while only 9.4% of them exhibited diaphragmatic breathing patterns. In fact, among athletes who played baseball, there was a higher percentage of diaphragmatic respirators than among those who played tennis, basketball, badminton, and volleyball. This suggests that athletes ’breathing differs depending on the sport they play, as each sport has different energy needs and limitations.
Moreover, the team noted that the largest proportion of dysfunctional airways were middle-class athletes, followed by primary school athletes and high school athletes. The proportion of collegiate athletes with dysfunctional breathing was slightly lower compared.
In addition, among the population defined as dysfunctional respirators, it was found that 61% of athletes breathe in the thoracic region, compared to 39% of athletes who breathe only in the abdomen.
These findings indicate an overall high prevalence of dysfunctional breathing patterns in the sports population in all age groups, requiring immediate address as an important issue in sports medicine.
Asked about the implications of these findings, Dr Terada said: “Clinicians need to consider screening respiratory patterns and implementing corrective approaches to specific components of dysfunctional breathing patterns. They should also consider assessing specific and sport-specific adaptations and adaptations. for sports Respiratory training protocols ”.
The results also underscore the importance of the Hi-Lo test for recognizing differences between subcategories (dominant thoracic and abdominal only) of respiratory patterns. Understanding these types of breathing can help develop individual intervention plans. Dr Terada says: “The inclusion of breathing exercises and techniques with a diaphragm can have a beneficial effect on restoring optimal recruitment and monitoring of respiratory muscle monitoring, improving the biomechanics of breathing and reducing psychological stress in athletes with dysfunctional breathing.”