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Old 08-13-11, 11:29 AM   #1
Walter
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Advice welcomed

Not strictly racing oriented but hey I don't abuse my blue star that much

(and you guys do give pretty solid advice)

This is a kind of meandering request for breathing exercises and I apologize for its length.

The injury (torn brachial plexus) that paralyzed most of my left arm also affects my left diaphragm. Essentially it's paralyzed. This manifests itself after hard exertions (sprint, bridge climb) and is a real shortness of breath. It's not being winded it's more than that. At its worse it's akin to what I imagine an asthma attack would be like. I can and obviously do recover and as I get into better shape over the course of a year this situation becomes less severe but never goes away. At my "best" I need 30 seconds to really breath normally again after a max effort. Sometimes I need more.

Obviously, it makes it real hard to crit race as I need to hang over my bars and learn how to breathe again after chasing a break or whatever and by then the race is usually up the road and gone.

So what have I accomplished? My "steady-state" exertion does improve with more riding. Measured in mph (not a great measure I know) not too long ago I was happy to maintain a pace over 16-17mph. Now I can ride along at 20 solo and stay with a group at 23 or so. When there's a break that ups that pace that I chase I get into the trouble described above. I think I can continue this kind of improvement so should I consider TTs?

Problem is I'm competitive and like pack riding.

My daughter plays the bassoon and has told me of some diaphragm exercises and I'm starting those. I have and am continuing to drop body weight as well.

So, any ideas on breathing exercises or related ideas? I'm not trolling the internet for medical advice but rather some training knowledge.
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Old 08-13-11, 11:43 AM   #2
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Sorry to hear... I also deal with long term management of old injuries and it's frustrating. Anyway, there are a couple of "breath trainers" on the market. I have no idea if they actually would help with your situation.

http://www.powerbreathe.com/

Otherwise, yeah, fitness will help.

In general I'd say, get on the trainer (for safety) and do the kind of intervals that cause you the most difficulty.
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Old 08-13-11, 11:58 AM   #3
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I think I've seen videos of grumpy doing breathing exercises as practice for playing. Maybe he can recommend something?
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Old 08-13-11, 12:21 PM   #4
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I do a lot of different breathing exercises, but mostly just play long tones on the horn.

One of the best pieces of advice I can give to a cyclist looking to improve breathing is to focus on the "sound" of your inhalation. It should be deep. It should sound like air sucking through a large pipe, and not through a straw.

Another thing that I think about when riding is to relax the upper spine (almost like the concept of "breathing through your back"). You'd be surprised at how much tension you might be holding in your torso just in normal riding position. Think about your spine being fluid and allowing the air to fill you like a bag.
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Old 08-13-11, 03:08 PM   #5
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Thanks guys.

Grumpy I enjoyed your movie as did my kid the bassoon player (bassoonist?).

She's in a high school band and they don't have much money so they do breathing exercises with PVC pipe.

Is that gauge marketed for musicians or for therapy?

While I'm pretty sure this will keep me from being a strong crit racer maybe just maybe I'll reach the goal of soloing off the front and never getting caught.
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Old 08-13-11, 03:20 PM   #6
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http://www.greatmedicalsupplies.com/...ser-719009.htm
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Old 08-13-11, 03:38 PM   #7
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Old 08-13-11, 05:06 PM   #8
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I suffer from exercise induced asthma, which is nowhere near as serious as your condition, but I have had to adapt my breathing as well as using medicine. I have found that looking down a little and straightening out the windpipe helps. I also took Grumpy's advice, and it works. Best of luck to you.
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Old 08-13-11, 05:20 PM   #9
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Glad to hear it works for you shovel. "Serious" is a hard to define term. If you've sat on your bike after a sprint and literally couldn't breath you know where I'm coming from and if you've had some success overcoming it then I'm a bit more hopeful.
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Old 08-13-11, 07:46 PM   #10
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I've almost passed out in the field. Thankfully I have a great physician and she set me straight.
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Old 08-13-11, 11:26 PM   #11
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Old 08-14-11, 05:48 AM   #12
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Check out some books/articles on pranayama and see if it's a fit for you.
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Old 08-14-11, 07:58 AM   #13
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I have asthma which doesn't bother me all the time but when it does I try to concentrate on breathing, especially exhaling. I've read if you force the exhale out as far as you can inhaling will come easier.
I've also tried "breathplay" where you count your breaths and match them to your pedal cadence or some other rythym. I don't like using the Albutirol.
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Old 08-14-11, 08:44 AM   #14
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Walter - I'm not an expert like some of the guys who have responded so far, but here are some thoughts none the less. (being as how this is the internet and all :-)

I suffer from exercise-induced-asthma, I get to the "oh noes, can't breathe, this is really a big problem" stage in some situations, and practicing good exhaling does help my body get back to inhaling appropriately.

Yoga: G is the man that I anticipate really knows what is up, but having practiced for a few years, it has helped me a great deal.
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Old 08-14-11, 01:41 PM   #15
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Many thanks to all and RX again I enjoyed our conversation and your tips. Like I said I took some notes and will get to work on it.

Grumpy I'm most appreciative of you taking some time as well.

G. I will do some research on your topic.

So again thanks to all of you and if anyone has any more ideas feel free to lay them out. Like I said this is part and parcel to an irreversible injury but I do feel it can be at least partially mitigated and it's about time I paid more attention to this part of rehab (I've spent countless hours on my arm but never paid much attention to my breathing beyond noticing that I wasn't as good at it as I was before).
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