Background: There is considerable evidence that respiratory muscle training improves pulmonary function, quality of life and exercise performance in healthy athletic populations. The benefits for wheelchair athletes are less well understood. Therefore, the present study examined the influence of inspiratory muscle training (IMT) upon respiratory function and repetitive propulsive sprint performance in wheelchair basketball players.
Methods: Using a placebo-controlled design, 16 wheelchair athletes were divided to an experimental (IMT; n=8) or placebo (sham-IMT; n=8) group based upon selective grouping criteria. The IMT group performed 30 dynamic breaths, twice daily at a resistance equivalent to 50% Maximum Inspiratory Pressure (MIP) and the sham-IMT group performed 60 slow breaths once a day at 15% MIP for a period of 6 weeks.
Results: The IMT group improved both MIP and MEP (17%, 23% respectively; p ≤0.03). Similar improvements were noted for the sham-IMT group with 23% and 33% from base-line for MIP and MEP respectively (p ≤0.03). There were no significant changes in pulmonary function at rest and any of the performance parameters associated with the repetitive sprint test (sprint and recovery times, HRpeak and peak blood lactate concentration). Reported experiences of using the IMT training device suggested ‘less breathlessness’ and ‘less tightness in the chest during the training’
Conclusions: Although there was no improvement in sprint performance, participants in both the IMT and sham-IMT reported an improved respiratory muscle function and quality of life.
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