Breathing patterns, a common topic on this blog, are of critical importance to the health and function of the human body as they address the mechanistic model and also several other aspects within the bio-psycho-social model of dysfunction. Despite having heard many arguments in the past to the contrary, none have been well supported enough to change my mind on the value of such an approach. That said, as the BP methodology is constantly evolving, inspired by some thoughts shared in Modern Athlete and Coach, I have begun to work breathing pattern training into a stepwise progression that ultimately influences the body not only from a low level, motor control standpoint but to one that is more readily transferable to athletic performance. Though a topic of contention, respiratory fatigue appears as though it may be a “what else” topic that may help elevate performance in distance events, where our goal is to stave off OBLA for as long as possible.
The first step in our progressions will not change. Commensurate with my current belief system, more intensive loading of the respiratory apparatus cannot be as effective without first having appropriate patterns in place. Lower intensity breathing, including many that incorporate spinal bracing challenges will initially be in place to increase vital capacity, elasticity, and to improve the access to the primary respiratory musculature. Secondly, we must begin to ensure maintenance of tidal volume during prolonged activities where the respiratory system is challenged repeatedly. If this is not established, we run into a number of issues. We know that the respiratory musculature, despite having multiple functions, will reduce activity of all else to maintain respiratory integrity. It appears accurate that the same can be said with energetics in exercise where afferent responses from vital systems during challenging exercise will result in preferential fueling of the respiratory apparatus over other simultaneously working tissues, leading to lower performance capacities. This may be especially true at altitude.
Enhancing the work capacity of the respiratory system and delaying the onset of fatigue, then, may have particular value in keeping the mobilizing musculature oxidative well into exercise. I see resisted breathing to improve relative exertion per breath (like improving maximal strength to enhance 225 max rep performance) as a step with which I may begin to experiment and ultimately may even lead to experimenting with mid-run fragmental breathing and nose breathing to place greater loads on the respiratory system in training to facilitate better mobilizer performance in the long run.
This may simply be a “what else” progression to be utilized in high level athletes, and like many forms of SPP, it is probably better to wait until a person has reached a certain level of sport proficiency before worrying about the minutiae.