Molokai 2012 Tim Altman4

Article: Keep Your Mouth Shut To Improve Your Performance

Nose Breathing Improves Athletic Performance

A great article by Annette Verpillot of Posturepro (shared by the ‘Strength Sensei’ website, www,srengthsensei.com), on the importance of nose breathing for athletic performance.

Here is a quote from the article that summarises much of the content.

“It has been known for many years that people with proper occlusion of your mouth have greater endurance and better performance than those with malocclusion. The alignment of the muscles of the jaw and teeth can have a direct impact on a player’s performance and strength, as the upper and lower jaw are what allows you to connect your anterior and posterior muscular chains. Without the jaw it would be impossible to exert strength.”

“The vast majority of health care professionals are unaware of the negative impact of mouth breathing on global health and sports performance. The development of the jaw and all the functions attached to it, nasal breathing, chewing, suction, swallowing and phonation, will either put the body in a state of physiologic health or state of dysfunction.”

In addition, the article also discussed that (and I’ve added to the points they make) when you nose breathe, you:

  • increase energy production in the cells by increased supply of oxygen to the cells – based on the principles of the Bohr Effect.
  • allow the body to function more in a parasympathetic, or relaxed, state – which also improves immune function, digestion, blood flow to the brain and increases serotonin and melatonin levels.
  • increase nitric oxide production which enhances memory and learning, regulates blood pressure, reduces inflammation, improves sleep quality, increases endurance and strength, and improves immune function. 
  • increase the flow of air through your nasal system and sinuses, preventing mucous from getting blocked or clogged.
  • allow the nose and sinuses to do their job so you deliver filtered, disinfected, air conditioned, moist air to the lungs for optimal gas exchange – which is how they like it. 
  • reduce the volume and rate of breathing which, based on the priniciples of the Bohr Effect, optimises delivery of oxygen to the cells for energy production, and also allows for the tubes in the body to be more vasodilated resulting in improved function of the systems these tubes service – the respiratory, circulatory, lymphatic, digestive, urinary systems etc.

This article was shared by a close friend and colleague of mine, Ramon Andersson, head kayaking coach at the Western Australian Institute of Sport, who has done a lot of training of optimal breathing both personally and with his athletes. Our subsequent discussion agreed that once you get above anaerobic threshold in intensity of exercise, it is often necessary to use the mouth to facilitate breathing, as the intensity is at a level where it is extremely uncomfortable to nose breathe on it’s own.

The consensus is, from our own trials and with those we have trained, that at this level of intensity, as long as the inhalation is driven by the diaphragm first, before using the chest and shoulders to increase the volume of air inhaled, then the efficiency of breathing is still optimised. That is because using the diaphragm will allow you to use the full lung volume for gas exchange, as well as having greater control of both inhalation and exhalation which then allows you achieve slower breathing rates at certain intensities of exercise. The importance of this is that of all functions controlled by the autonomic nervous system (meaning that they are automatic), breathing, via the diaphragm, is the one function we can consciously control with ease (with training of course). As such, our breathing can influence other bodily functions controlled by our autonomic nervous system – including heart rate, digestion, the immune system, neurotransmitter levels etc.

Getting to the point; being able to breathe at lower breathing rates for a certain level of exercise intensity, will also allow you to have a slower heart rate, greater oxygen delivery to cells for energy production, reduced lactic acid levels, and for you to be more relaxed whilst exercising at this level. In other words, you will be far more efficient, or get more from your body.

If you would like to learn how to breathe more efficiently whilst exercising, and therefore increase your performance potential, contact me at tim@timaltman.com.au or call 0425 739 918.

 

 

 

Breathing Man Running

Video: How To Breathe When Exercising Part 1 – The Nose

Most Of Us Were Incorrectly Taught How To Breathe When Exercising…

A video from my Youtube channel discussing how to correctly breathe when exercising.

Based on the structure of the nose, lungs and the dynamics of how we deliver oxygen from the air in our lungs to our cells via the blood stream for energy production (these dynamics are explained by ‘The Bohr Effect’ which which Danish biochemist, Christian Bohr won a Nobel Prize, and is studied in all mainstream medicine, physiology and biochemistry courses), most of us breathe incorrectly. We certainly do not meet what are the accepted medical diagnostic norms for functional breathing – see also my video ‘Breathing Is Life’ linked here for more information on this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zulIZxuEUvw&index=31&list=UUGq51Ggda2H9na1z01KA5zQ

We were also taught incorrectly how to breathe when exercising.

This  video will explain why, and will start to explain how to correct it. Stay tuned for part 2 (The Diaphragm) soon.

If you like this video, subscribe to my Youtube channel, my website, or book in for an appointment.

Or if you are a coach, or trainer, I’d be happy to come and train you and your group/team – tim@timaltman.com.au or 0425 739 918

 

Breathing Man meditating - breathing optimally...

How You Deal With Stress is the Number One Contributor to Your Mortality

Our Cortisol Slope, via Our Relationship to Stress, is The Greatest Predictor of Total Mortality

A fascinating video (linked at the bottom) from Food Matters TV during their recent Sleep and Stress Online Event chatting with Dr Alan Chritianson discussing the relationship with stress and mortality and highlighted some findings from the Whitehall II study in the UK, which revealed that for cardiovascular mortality, cigarette smoking was the number one predictor of mortality, with cortisol slope (via our relationship to stress) following closely behind. They also compares these with the usual health metrics such as exercise levels, blood pressure, cholesterol levels etc. etc.

Yet, for overall mortality, cortisol slope was the highest predictor of mortality.

The implications for this on how to prioritise your health incentives are huge – Dr Christianson, said these results hit him like a tonne of bricks. You could be a non smoker, non-alcohol drinking, clean food eating, exercise loving health nut, yet if your relationship with stress, or how you deal with stress is dysfunctional, it could make you ill or kill you quicker than a smoking, drinking, junk food eating couch potato who doesn’t get overly stressed too much. That sucks!!

These results basically suggest that, whilst it is important to focus on our nutrition, exercise, alcohol consumption, eliminating cigarette smoking etc. for our health, we should make how we deal with stress our number one priority.

Fortunately, two of the modalities I use with clients focus one exactly that.

  1. Diaphragmatic breathing – of all of the automatic functions that our body performs, breathing is the only one that we can consciously control, with ease. And the same nervous system that regulates our automatic functions (including breathing), the autonomic nervous system (ANS), is also the same nervous system that regulates stress. Moreover, most of us breathe in emergency mode, far too quickly, with an exhale to inhale ratio that is out of whack, so we end up in permanent emergency mode, or ‘fight or flight’ functioning. By learning how to diaphragm breathe in certain rhythms, we can get out of emergency, or ‘fight or flight’ mode, and restore a nervous system that is more restful and relaxed, than it is on the go.
  2. Mickel Therapy – this technique, which is far from therapy as you might think of it, is an ‘action based’ technique that focuses on restoring harmony and optimal function to the ‘hypothalamus’ gland in our brain stem, which is the gland responsible for regulating the function or our autonomic nervous system, and therefore our stress response, all automatic and endocrine gland functions of our body, our immune system, our sleep cycles, neurotransmitter levels and many other bodily functions. It is like the ‘general’ of our bodily functions and it’s job is to maintain homeostasis, or efficient, healthy functioning of our body. It is also like a link between our brain and our body. A healthy relationship with stress requires, at the highest levels of our functioning (in our brain) a healthy relationship between our instinctive, emotional brain (which registers threats to our system and, therefore, stress) and our thinking, or rational brain (which, ideally, interprets the signals of stress sent by the emotional brain, negative emotions, and creates actions to deal with them). This allows us to functionally deal with stress as it arises. However, we ‘modern’ humans have created a huge mismatch between the bodies we have inherited (from our hunter gatherer ancestors) and the culture we have created, and this mismatch leads this healthy relationship in our brain between our instinctive emotions and our thinking, to break down. The result being that rather than dealing with stress functionally, most of us, most of the time, suppress it; and the hypothalamus is the gland in the body that first deals with this suppressed stress, causing it to go into overdrive. The follow on effect of this is that homeostasis within our body is upset and our automatic functions start to go into emergency mode, resulting often in symptoms of acute and/or chronic illness.

Hopefully these explanations may shed some light on why our relationship to stress is the number one predictor of overall mortality.

If you would like to explore using these modalities to improve your relationship with stress, overcome any chronic illness that you believe stress may play a role in (CFS, Fibromylagia, IBS, Anxiety/Depression, Auto-Immune etc), or you would like to explore increasing your quality of life, or the duration between now and your inevitable mortality :-), then contact me via tim@timaltman.com.au or call 0425 739 918.

https://www.facebook.com/foodmatters/videos/10154761999126570/

 

Tim Altman Naturopath

Breathing Interview – ABC Radio National ‘Saturday Afternoon’

Recently I was interviewed on the subject of breathing for health and well-being by a former client, Joel Spry, who overcame IBS and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), on his Saturday afternoon session on ABC Radio National.

We combined breathing retraining techniques and Mickel Therapy to treat Joel, and he applied everything with openness and enthusiasm (along with some trepidation initially, which is expected), and fully earned the full recovery he achieved.

It was a pleasure to work with a client who was very inspiring in his openness and application to his treatment.

And now he is working on national radio!! Woohoo.

No stopping Joel now.

Here is the interview..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PsDO1umJLfA&spfreload=10

evolutionary-medicine

Research: “The Rhythm of Breathing Affects Memory and Fear”.

Rhythm of Breathing Affects Memory and Fear

A new study (linked) reports the rhythm of your breathing can influence neural activity that enhances memory recall and emotional judgement.

http://neurosciencenews.com/memory-fear-breathing-5699/

And the research on the positive benefits of functional breathing for our health keeps piling up. Yet, whilst most of us are unaware, pretty much all of us do no breathe functionally. We over breathe – both in rate and volume.

I’d like to focus on what was suggested about the findings from the study in the linked article.

“The findings imply that rapid breathing may confer an advantage when someone is in a dangerous situation, Zelano said.

 

If you are in a panic state, your breathing rhythm becomes faster,” Zelano said. “As a result you’ll spend proportionally more time inhaling than when in a calm state. Thus, our body’s innate response to fear with faster breathing could have a positive impact on brain function and result in faster response times to dangerous stimuli in the environment.”

This is a great advantage when you are in a dangerous or emergency situation, yet, in the modern world, most of us are not.

However most of us breathe far too rapidly and with far too much volume (we over breathe), which the study points out is our body’s instinctive, and advantageous, response to an emergency or dangerous state. This implies that the way we now breathe, as a result of a mismatch between the body we inherited from our hunter-gatherer ancestors, and the culture we live in, has us perpetually in this innate, or instinctive, emergency mode neurologically (or as far as our brain is concerned), which is a considerable disadvantage as we are not in emergency situations often at all.

The metabolic impact on our health of being permanently in emergency mode (fight or flight) or sympathetic nervous system dominance is huge. My blog linked goes into detail about this..

Email me at tim@timaltman.com.au or call 0425 739 918 if you want to learn how to get out of emergency mode.

 

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Testimonial: Eliminate Asthma with Breathing Dynamics

A lovely testimonial and great result from another happy asthma sufferer – soon to be former sufferer.

The reason I bang on so much about breathing retaining is that this kind of result is the norm using my biofeedback driven breathing retraining rhythms. The shame is that most asthma sufferers overlook this technique as it seems to simple to be true.

“Tim Altman’s breathing techniques made a dramatic improvement to my asthma. The breathing exercises were easy to incorporate into my life, and the biofeedback was helpful to refine the technique. After two weeks I have reduced my asthma medication by half.”

Tim L, Melbourne

Read previous blogs of mine on Breathing Dynamics, The Biochemistry of Breathing and Breathing Dynamics Solutions for Asthma.

Or watch my Youtube video; ‘Breathing Is Life’  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zulIZxuEUvw&t=58s

I am also about to launch an online course for “Breathing Dynamics Solutions for Asthma and Breathing Difficulties”. If you are interested in the course, or would like to book a clinic appointment with me, please email or call 0425 739 918.

 

 

 

Snoring 3

Breathing Dynamics Solutions for Snoring and Sleep Apnoea

Breathing Dynamics for the Treatment and Prevention of Snoring and Sleep Apnoea

Snoring is the resultant sound caused by vibration of respiratory structures (usually the uvula and soft palate) due to obstructed air movement during breathing whilst sleeping. The blockage in the airways can be due to a number of reasons:

  • Obesity – fat gathering in and around the throat.
  • Dental Reasons – mispositioned jaw, caused by tension in the muscles.
  • Alcohol or drugs relaxing throat muscles.
  • Throat weakness – causing it to close during sleep.
  • Nasal passage and sinus obstruction.
  • Obstructive sleep apnoea – indeed snoring can be one of the first symptoms or signs of sleep apnoea in a person, and is almost always present in sleep apnoea.
  • Sleeping on the back – leading to the tongue dropping to the back of the mouth.
  • The tissues at the top of the airways touching each other.

Whilst incidences of snoring can vary, it is estimated that at least 30% of adults snore.

The impact of snoring occurs both for the snorer and those who sleep with or near them. The impact can include sleep deprivation, daytime drowsiness, lack of energy and focus, irritability, decreased libido and potential psychological problems.

Research on snoring has confirmed an association or correlation of snoring with a number of diseases, including:

  • A correlation between loud snoring and increased risk of heart attack (+34%) and stroke (+67%).
  • Development of carotid artery atherosclerosis (due to turbulence in the artery closes to the airways).
  • Risk of brain damage.
  • Significant improvement of marital relations following correction of snoring.
  • Treatment of Snoring
  • Treatment options for snoring are varied and can depend on the believed causative factor. All treatments focus on clearing the blockage in the breathing passage. Treatments range from:
  • Weight loss
  • Cessation of smoking.
  • Reduction of alcohol consumption.
  • Having patients sleep on their side.
  • Over the counter aids – nasal sprays, nasal strips, nose clips, lubricating sprays, anti-snore pillows and clothing.
  • Dental appliances – splints (mandibular advancement splints – are far more compliant than CPAP machines).
  • The Pillar Procedure – surgical insertion of strips to strengthen the soft palate.
  • CPAP machines – continuous positive airway pressure machines – mainly for sleep apnoea. Is quite invasive as it requires wearing a mask and having a machine beside the bed (that can be noisy). Compliance is as low as 13%.
  • Surgery – i.e. removal of tissue in the back of the throat (although this involves risks of side effects, including scarring), or turbinate coblation (removing obstruction caused by enlarged turbinates in the nose).
  • Pharmaceuticals drugs or herbal preparations.

Breathing Retraining to Prevent and Treat Snoring

Note: it is recommended you read the previous blogs on breathing,  nose breathing and the Bohr Effect, relevant to snoring on this website prior to reading this section, as the following is a simplified summary based on a knowledge of this theory.

The Breathing Dynamics approach to snoring addresses an aspect that is prevalent in most snorers. That is mouth breathing at night.

Up to 6 times the volume of air can travel in and out of the mouth compared to the nostrils. Given the anatomical, physiological and biochemical make-up of our respiratory system is designed for us to breathe through our nose, the increased volume of air flow experienced during mouth breathing can not only increase the air flow in the throat and likelihood that any obstruction or loose tissue will rattle, it can seriously upset our blood chemistry and reduce delivery of oxygen from our arterial blood to our cells for energy production (based on ‘The Bohr Effect’) and lead to smooth muscle constriction or spasm in the respiratory, circulatory, lymphatic, urinary and digestive systems (any systems that involve tubes). This can obviously lead to a number of symptoms throughout the body.

In addition, in normal breathing (according to diagnostic norms), not only should you breathe through the nostrils only, your tongue should rest at the roof of the mouth, preventing it from falling to the floor of the mouth and obstructing the throat (as is often the case during mouth breathing). An obstructed throat at night can or will usually results in snoring. When you breathe through your nose, with your mouth closed, your tongue will naturally sit at the roof of your mouth.

The objective in breathing retraining is to:

  1. Ensure that the mouth is closed at night – there are a number of techniques to achieve this, sometimes initially involving the use of other techniques or interventions such as dental splints or retrainers (especially if there is obstruction due to the positioning of the mandible) in addition to our techniques, but, over time, this can become habitual.

  2. Retrain the person to habitually breathe at all times using the nose, not the mouth. This second aspect takes time and requires the use of breath hold techniques to increase the body’s tolerance to elevated CO2 levels (as are seen when breathing through the nose and with patterns that promote breathing at the right rate and volumes) and CapnoTrainer biofeedback technology to retrain functional breathing patterns that will have your body become more comfortable with nose breathing and slower breathing rates with reduce volumes of air flow.

Once your body becomes more used to breathing with mouth closed (except when eating or talking/singing), and with reduced air flow and breathing rate, this eventually becomes more habitual.

To book in for a consultation to see Tim regarding the use of Breathing Dynamics to prevent or treat asthma, email Tim or call 0425 739 918.

Alternatively, the Breathing Dynamics for snoring and subsequent breathing retraining techniques and rhythm development can be purchased via the shop section of this website.

Breathing Dynamics for Sporting Performance

Advanced Breathing: The Last Unchartered Frontier of Sporting Performance

Breathing Dynamics for Sporting Performance

Benefits derived from optimal breathing during exercise:

  • Greater surface area of lungs used for gas exchange.

  • Increased oxygen delivery to cells.

  • Delayed lactic acid onset.

  • Enhanced buffering of lactic acid (via bicarbonate derived from CO2)

  • Reduced heart and breathing rates.

  • Increased relaxation.

  • Greater access to ‘alpha’ or ‘zone’ states.

  • Greater postural stability and potential injury prevention via diaphragm and deep system stabilization.

The Bohr Effect states that the lower the partial pressure of CO2 in arterial blood, the tighter the bond between haemoglobin and oxygen (and subsequently less O2 is released to cells).
As a result of less O2 delivery, cells produce less energy. And, during exercise, lactic acid is produced  more plentifully and quickly.

In addition, CO2 is necessary for the production of bicarbonate ions which buffer the affect of lactic acid on blood pH. If CO2 levels are low this does not occur as effectively. Arterial CO2 levels are lowered as a consequence of over breathing or mouth breathing. Our respiratory system is designed for us to breathe primarily through our noses. Mouth breathing is far less efficient in that requires more energy, and higher breathing and heart rates to deliver sufficient oxygen to cells. Mouth breathing serves as an emergency mechanism to acute stress or if our nose becomes blocked. It is not designed to be our principal method of respiration.

Learned behaviors (as a response to stressors) and a lack of understanding have led us to mouth breathe (or over breathe) not only during exercise, but also in most of our day to day functioning. Consequently, our bodies become used to lower levels of arterial CO2 and we develop a breathing pattern that is elevated in rate and volume, and uses mostly our chest and shoulders rather than our diaphragm (meaning that we do not necessarily fill our whole lungs).
The result of this ‘over breathing’ pattern is that our cells receive a reduced level of O2 from our breathing and arterial blood and our body creates a range of adaptive mechanisms designed to reduce CO2 loss (and resultant reduced arterial CO2) that may include smooth muscle constriction or spasm, apnoea or excessive mucous production.
In addition, over breathing creates or exacerbates an imbalance in our autonomic nervous system, specifically between our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. Over breathing (or mouth breathing) leads us to be sympathetic nervous system dominant or perpetually in fight or flight mode rather than being able to draw on either this or a more relaxed mode of functioning (via the parasympathetic nervous system) as desired during exercise. If not balanced or moderated over time, this sympathetic nervous system dominance or ‘fight or flight’ mode of functioning can become extremely debilitating to our bodies.

The balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems during exercise will allow us to attain ‘zone’ like or ‘alpha’ even at high level exertion, such as in competition. This ‘zone’ or ‘alpha’ state allows us to be super relaxed and quietens our mental chatter during exercise or performance.

The objectives of Breathing Dynamics for sports performance training include:

  1. Nose breathing at all times.

  2. Building tolerance to hypercapnia (elevated CO2 )

  3. Developing diaphragmatic strength

  4. Creating a breathing rhythm with reduced breathing rate and volume

The exercises take time to learn, but you will learn to exercise whilst breathing using nose only, driving breathing using the diaphragm and with lower heart rates and breathing rates at most levels of exercise intensity.

I coach athletes to nose and diaphragm breathe whilst performing their sport or during recovery phases either one on one, or in groups. Contact me to set up a time to make a difference in your performance.