Breathing training programs may be considered for asthmatic athletes, but further studies are needed to evaluate the possible effects of such a strategy in this specific population.
Specific breathing techniques and inspiratory muscle training may improve respiratory symptoms of exercise-induced laryngeal obstruction in athletes.
Respiratory muscle training may provide some benefits in athletes, but real improvement of athletic performance has not been demonstrated.
Healthy trained athletes generally have an “overbuilt” respiratory system in order to face the huge ventilation and gas-exchange demand imposed by strenuous exercise. Athletes frequently complain of respiratory symptoms regardless of whether they have a diagnosed respiratory disease, therefore evoking a kind of respiratory limitation during exercise. Some respiratory pathologies athletes present are closely linked to exercise and include asthma, exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB) or exercise-induced laryngeal obstruction. Management of asthma and EIB are mainly based on pharmacological treatments. However, many athletes still complain of respiratory symptoms despite optimal pharmacological treatments, which highlights the need for non-pharmacological approaches including breathing retraining, inspiratory muscle training and/or laryngeal exercise performed under the guidance of a physiotherapist in this specific population.
With this literature overview, we aimed to report evidence supporting the interest of rehabilitation for athletes with respiratory disorders and discuss whether inspiratory muscle training programs can improve performance in healthy athletes.
We searched MEDLINE and Cochrane databases for trials, reviews and meta-analyses assessing respiratory rehabilitation and muscle training programs in athletes by using the MesH terms “athletes”, “asthma”, “dyspnea”, “rehabilitation” and “education” published from January 2010 to March 2020. The selection of articles was based on the author's expertise to elaborate this review of the literature.
Major findings suggest that breathing retraining may help asthmatic athletes better control their respiratory symptoms and that inspiratory muscle training may improve respiratory symptoms of exercise-induced laryngeal obstruction in athletes. Improvement of performance by respiratory muscle training still remains controversial.
Respiratory rehabilitation could be of interest in the specific population of athletes but should be further evaluated to improve the level of evidence of such strategies.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.
Keywords : Athlete, Rehabilitation, Asthma, Exercise induced bronchoconstriction, Exercise-induced laryngeal obstruction, Respiratory retraining