Improving your Bodysurfing with Respiratory Muscle Training
Respiratory Muscle Training (RMT) is a technique that aims to improve the function, strength, and endurance of the respiratory muscles through specific exercises of which bodysurfers can take great advantage.
Strengthening your inspiratory muscles significantly reduces the amount of oxygen that these muscles require during bodysurfing. With more oxygen being available for other muscles, bodysurfers can sustain their efforts longer, without tiring. It also makes it easier to overcome hydrostatic and hydraulic resistance in the surf, along with the resistance from neoprene suits used in cold waters.
When breathing muscles become fatigued, the body switches to survival mode and redirects blood flow and oxygen away from the locomotor muscles to the respiratory muscles, allowing the bodysurfer to continue breathing. Thus, kicks, strokes, and maneuvers are slowed down. A bodysurfer elevates his or her head in search of more O2 and frontal drag increases undesirably.
It is a common practice in bodysurfing for a person to instinctively press down on the water while breathing, lifting the head, causing the legs to sink. A strong core is a key to becoming able to breathe better with the head down, near the shoulders, in a streamlined position on the face of the wave. However, this is still a rare ability among bodysurfers.
Strengthening of the core, in addition to strengthening of the respiratory muscles, minimizes the effects of the impact the body sustains on the surface of the water. This impact, in addition to reducing lung capacity, causes a person to involuntarily expel air from the lungs and also causes him or her to inhale water.
Another advantage to a strong core is that, with an expanded ribcage, the bodysurfer will be more buoyed on the wave’s face.
During the movements performed in this video, JSC is conducting controlled breathing sets over short periods for the purpose of developing technique. Compared to classical apnea hypoxic training, which deliberately targets oxygen deprivation (or CO2 build-up), these sets stress the body much less.
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