Gasping and Breath Heaving During Sports Often Causes Asthma. What To Do?
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that asthma afflicts 150 million people worldwide and claims 180,000 lives annually. In the USA, over 25 million Americans suffer from the disorder. Of these, at least 5 million are children, and half of those are undiagnosed.
I wish I could reach just ONE of the following people. We could set the stage for backing thousands, perhaps millions of people away and or off of inhalers and steroids.
We all know that overtraining or putting excessive pressure on our respiratory system without following proper breathing technique could have long term, and serious implications. Here, we try to answer several questions that have been raised by our readers, majority of whom are active sports persons, athletes, or train regularly to stay fit.
Are breathing problems caused by sports, exercise, or prolonged, intense efforts?
Or are exercise challenges caused by poor breathing ?
The answer to this question is - BOTH
Call it Exercise-Induced Hyperventilation, even COPD or Emphysema, but that may only be part, or none of, it. Physicians may call a high intensity condition- Effort Induced Broncho- Spasm or EIBS. Sports coaches and personal trainers may refer to it as overtraining.
Why do some people pass a cardiac stress test but drop dead the following day or soon thereafter? Or even die during the test?
We all read about Danish Footballer Christian Eriksen suffering a massive Cardiac Arrest during play in Summer 2021.
Read full story- Christian Eriksen: What can cause a cardiac arrest?
Competitive athletes and non-competitive exercisers (this also applies to Fire and Police personnel as well as emergency paramedics, nurses, many physical therapists, and anyone that must intensely breath-heave, gasp, under-breathe or overexert repeatedly on the job or otherwise) routinely breathe too hard, too fast, and too soon.
This is unbalanced hyper-inhalation. These people often mouth-breathe, breath-heave and/or gasp to get the air they need to support their exertions, often due to long standing habits. This kind of charged breathing could lead to respiratory problems and related oxygen deficiency diseases including heart conditions, stroke, depression, asthma, high blood pressure and many others.
Restriction of the breathing muscles, reduced breathing volume and ease, vasoconstriction, such as present in sports-induced asthma can appear along with almost any malady. I believe this is why many athletes often develop sports induced breathing problems, and die prematurely of heart and vascular problems.
What should the players do? Retire and die? I believe that many need the movement that causes extra oxygenation and as soon as they stop moving as with a job or activity they MUST perform, the UDB takes over and slowly locks their breathing up and with less and less breath they succumb to oxygen deprivation.
Most forms of competitive sports are in NO way a guarantee to a long healthy life. Most often the reverse is true such as with sprinters and or professional football players.
Let's take a look at several athletes and see if we begin to see a pattern.
The week following a Los Angeles marathon, "13% of runners reported upper respiratory tract infections compared with only 2% of 'control' runners."
This is not just true for high-demanding cardiovascular programs, it is true for heavy martial arts too. You simply must do something to rapidly offset the accumulating breathing constriction of competitive sports.
Does the ventilation system limit exercise capacity?
The bigger question is "does certain kinds of exercise/physical exertion limit the ventilation system and how does one offset this limitation?"
Nurses and physical therapists are harder to see the breathing relationship due to lack of need to be compared to a competitor but when many take our breathing tests they begin to wonder if their stress (our definition of harmful stress is not giving yourself enough time to breathe) is more harmful than they realized.
A recent study (2017) outlined in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that men who engaged in exercise low intensity or duration were more likely to have a high libido while high intensity or longer workouts were associated with lower sex drive.
Related News for Self Study and Interpretation on the Causes of this Condition
1. Flo Jo's autopsy reveals severe breathing problems
THE AUTOPSY - CORONER CASE # 98-6262ME Residues of two drugs were detected in Flo Jo's blood. One was aspirin and the other Benadryl. Benadryl is an antihistamine. Flo Jo had histamines produced in her body. She was congested. She took Benadryl to relive her congestion. Learn More
2. Doctors advise Olajuwon to rest
I hear doctors have told Houston Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon to stay off the court for an unspecified time because of respiratory problems.
"He was re-examined today by a team of physicians and we've recommended that he not play basketball for a while," James Muntz, the Rockets' physician, said in a brief statement released by the team.
Olajuwon, 37,was diagnosed on March 1 with a disease that restricts the flow of air through his bronchial passages during heavy exercise, causing spasms in his lungs. He has been taking medication for the condition.
3. Migliore has breathing difficulty - The Associated Press 03/29/00 4:59 PM Eastern
NEW YORK (AP) -- Jockey Richard Migliore complained of difficulty breathing after leaping from his mount, Denver Mint, during Aqueduct's seventh race Wednesday.
The oft-injured Migliore was making his return to New York after racing in Florida during the winter. He said he would see his own physician for diagnosis.
From Mike White: The body posture of a jockey is VERY negative to deep easy breathing.
4. Bronchitis in a world class bicyclist? Swiss rider wins men's road race
ATLANTA (AP) -- The conditioning provided by the Tour de France was evident in today's Olympic cycling road race.
All three medalists raced in the Tour, while American favorite Lance Armstrong, who withdrew because of illness, faded in today's race.
"I said before the race that the winner would come from the Tour de France," said American Frankie Andreu, who finished fourth.
"Because when you come out of the Tour de France either you're flying or you're dead.
Pascal Richard of Switzerland overtook Denmark's Rolf Sorensen in the final 20 meters to win by a bicycle length in the first Olympic road race open to professionals.
Richard covered the 138-mile course in 4 hours, 53 minutes, 56 seconds. He swung left of Sorensen at the last moment and crossed the finish line with arms upraised, while Sorensen slapped his handle bar in disgust.
Maximilian Sciandri of Britain won the bronze medal, finishing two seconds behind the two leaders. With professional cyclists invited to the Olympics for the first time in Atlanta, today's field of 194 of the world's greatest cyclists was the strongest ever for an American road race.
Andreu of Dearborn, Mich., was the top American finisher, 1 minute, 14 seconds behind Richard. Armstrong led for about a lap but faded in the final 25 miles and finished 12th, 1 minute, 29 seconds back.
Armstrong dropped out of this month's Tour de France because of bronchitis and strep throat, and his lack of top conditioning caught up to him.
"The ideal preparation for this race is the Tour de France," said Andreu, the only American to finish the Tour de France this year. "Then you rest up and for a one-day ride, you're in perfect shape."
Steven Bauer of Canada said it was evident Armstrong was gassed.
"I guess he didn't have it in the end," Bauer said. "As we can see, one, two, three were guys who did the Tour de France, and everyone was saying they may be tired. But I knew anyone who rode the Tour de France was going to have the top conditioning."
All the world's best were here, with the exception of Switzerland's Tony Rominger, whose skills are more suited for mountain courses than the 8.1-mile course that wound its way through the plush neighborhoods of Atlanta.
The race -- 17 laps on a course winding through the heart of Atlanta -- began at 8:30 a.m. on rain-cooled streets and the temperatures were relatively tepid -- the opposite of what Armstrong had hoped for.
Armstrong, a two-time Tour DuPont winner and a two-time Tour de France stage winner, figured a hot, humid day would have hurt the Europeans. But the weather wasn't that hot or sticky.
The field included Miguel Indurain of Spain, whose five-year reign as champion of the Tour de France ended this month when he finished 11th to Danish rider Bjare Riis.
National coaching director Chris Carmichael did everything he could to give Armstrong the upper hand.
The four other Americans in the race -- Andreu; Steve Hegg, of Dana Point, Calif.; George Hincapie, of Charlotte, N.C.; and Greg Randolph, of McCall, Idaho; -- raced for one purpose: to help Armstrong win a medal. All but Hegg came from the Motorola-sponsored professional riding team led by Armstrong.
5. A small sacrifice for fitness?- By Damian Cristodero
BRANDON -- After two days of fitness drills, two days of aching legs and shortness of breath, coach John Tortorella knows what will make his players feel a whole lot better.
"I think," he said, "they want to see some pucks."
Players will get that chance at 10 a.m. today as the Lighting holds its first practice of training camp at the Ice Sports Forum.
But Tortorella warned the emphasis on fitness will not be overlooked. The coach said that after the 40-minute scrimmage that will start practice, most of the work on and off the ice will continue to focus on conditioning.
"We're not doing this in a punishment type of way," Tortorella said Wednesday. "Conditioning is an important part of getting out of the gates and it is something we can control."
Wednesday's workouts looked particularly tough. Each player skated 15 laps three times, with only a short rest in between.
But Nikita Alexeev said that was nothing compared to Tuesday's breath-taking (literally) drill that had each player skate three laps six times.
Alexeev said when it was over he had "a headache, pressure in my head. The blood goes everywhere. It's pretty much the toughest drill I ever did."
"I think it's fun for them," Tortorella said. "It's like a battle. "You're not going to break me.' I think they enjoy the challenge of it."
Whether he enjoys it or not, defenseman Jassen Cullimore called the drills a necessary evil."It's going to get you better," he said. "It will get you to the peak of the season. There's a time during the year you can say you're feeling really good. Hopefully, this will get us there quicker."
I have to add to that "If you do not quit before that due to being overtrained.
6. Amy Van Dyken
When Olympic swimming champion Amy Van Dyken races in the 50-meter freestyle event, she doesn't breathe.
"I take one breath, and I'm gone."
Van Dyken holds the record for the most gold medals won by an American woman at a single Olympics - four.
But even when she's not competing, her breathing is still a critical concern.
Van Dyken has asthma, (No wonder !) a chronic inflammatory disorder that constricts the muscles of the bronchial airways, making every breath a struggle.
"I was diagnosed when I was 18 months," says Van Dyken. "Asthma has pretty much defined my entire life. *But I wouldn't be who I am without it. ( I would say: Same attitude as most AA 12 step members. Sad but true. But only WE can REDEFINE ourselves. )
I want people to know that you can have asthma and still live normally, even be a professional athlete. Many trainers train their swimmers to NOT BREATHE. I believe this sets up breathing patterns in the future that are VERY unhealthy. Like Van Dyken, who’s on the maximum regimen recommended for asthma maintenance." That means three or four different medications a day - every day.
Can we be ourselves using drugs every day and still be "healthy normal"?
The drug industry would surely like that. I seriously doubt that most drugs and healthy normal are compatible.
Read More : Asthma Hyperventilation
Feedback from a leading martial artist...
Once in my early training years I witnessed, and helped, one of my teachers in Judo. Do you remember when Ingemar Johansson, the boxer who won over Floyd Paterson once, on his second match I think it was, was knocked out.
People were talking about his shivering foot. One of his feet was moving because of the damage the knockout from Floyd gave him. I am not sure this is what happened for my teacher, but this was the situation.
He was wrestling on the mat with his opponent. He ended up under his opponent, who got a judo-strangulation around his throat - and I saw one of his feet started to move as it did with the Swedish ex-champ. I yelled STOP and let go, since he had fainted because of the lack of oxygen.
This was 1968, and I was at that time not so well aware of how the hazardous way the Martial Art strangulation hold could be handled. Well, he came back with some dizziness, stood up and thanked me. I don't think I saved his life, but I did a good thing for him, since his opponent didn't see what was happening.
Later during the years I have been studying more of the strangulation techniques. It is a ART in itself. Sorry to say, it is a killing art. One Japanese friend of mine, he is dead now, rest his soul, not by strangulation though, he died from diabetes. He told me about one of his teachers in Japan.
For the Japanese (some) it seems as "close death experiences" is close to orgasm. This teacher had a way of doing it by throwing a wet towel around his neck and from that reach the goal of "almost" strangulation. It worked always for him, except one time, when he could not remove the towel from his neck - he died from the strangulation (maybe a fantastic death considering his view of sexual pleasure).
In Judo, i.e. there are at least ten to fifteen different strangulations. Some going to the windpipes, others attacking (don't know the word for it) other places in the throat.
Once when I was in Japan, my teacher, Ishizuka-sensei, showed me the following thing; "Bo-san look," he said. Called for another student and hit him with his thumb (a special technique we use) in his throat and the guy lifted from the mat and landed two or three meters from where he had been standing.
All those strangulations are very dangerous and handled improperly. Sometimes,martial artists say, "You can take a strangulation for ten seconds". This is a lie. I ended up in a choke-hold and I had to give up straight away, the other person was so powerful so I felt the blackness coming over me.
I think Mike, that it could be a good thing if you from your side, as a breathing-specialist, wrote about the hazardous ways of handling opponents while training. In this so called Ultimate Fighting, where it obviously is correct to hit and choke ones opponent until he is unconscious. Some of the contestants get hurt real bad.
In the East, Russia i.e. there have been at least a couple of deaths from those so called gladiator-games.
I get very angry when it comes to those spectacular games. In the end, a person can die. We all die, it's the only real truth in life. But as I have learned from much of your writing, through the proper breathing we can live longer, instead of shorter. B.M.
Response from Mike:
This is an important insight, though very extreme examples, that will add to others’ understanding of the importance of healthy breathing and longevity. Many thanks.
Chief Seattle said many years ago that if the white man continued his life in the direction it was going that he would spend most of life surviving instead of living.
Breath is life.
I think the ones to really watch are the ones that do NOT abuse their bodies and die anyway. They are far in the majority then the fighters whom we know often push the limits beyond reason and sanity.
My friend Margo Anand who wrote The Art of Sexual Magic and teaches Tantra in the form of spiritual sexuality would absolutely have a fit at someone trying to choke themselves to achieve ecstasy.
Ecstasy stems from the breath being greater, deeper and easier. From being directed to specific areas of the body in great amounts. I feel sad for these "choking "people.
Many thanks Bo. You are a friend and colleague, I honor and value our relationship.
Unfortunately I think some of them don't care if they shorten their lifetime or even die. They are doing what they love and are willing to die for it. It is almost like a Samurai Warrior. He knew he could die tomorrow, but he kept on training as hard as he could and continued to be a Samurai.
I also saw this analogy with rock climbers who climb without ropes. They love living on the edge of life. If they die, even their survivors say they died doing what they loved. There was also a story about these guys who jumped from cliffs with bungee cords but stopped above the treeline.
This one guy tried to aim below the tree line so he would go between 2 trees. He missed. To each his own I guess.
Overtraining and expert opinion: Read this post on over-training featuring a heart specialist.