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Old 05-12-2009
Swamprat01 Swamprat01 is offline
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Default COPD and swimming


I am a 63 year old former smoker and firefighter. I have COPD which limits the elasticity of lung tissue. I have built myself back up to swimming a mile a day. I have just discovered T.I. and I am trying to make adjustments in my style to make my swimming easier.
The problem is that I have no "reserve" for holding my breath for any length of time. I've tried meditation, deep breathing prior to swimming and just about anything else that I can think of including the Power Lung. After less than 10 seconds, I'm out and it's difficult to build up a cushion again.
Is there any workable exercises or tips that I can use to increase my lung power? Any help would be appreciated. If this has been covered before, I apologize.
thanks,

Will
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Old 05-12-2009
shuumai shuumai is offline
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Perhaps try a swim snorkel while working on technique and building fitness.
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Old 05-13-2009
madvet madvet is offline
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Default Breathing

Unfortunately, it is a myth that you can "strengthen" your lungs. Your lungs are a passive gas exchanger built like a sponge and since your COPD has "clogged up" a significant part of the sponge your lung capacity is dimished. And age alone causes degeneration of lung capacity which is a major limiter in the athletic performance of older athletes.

I am 52 and have asthma so I can relate. I use advair daily. I use an albuterol inhaler 15 minutes before I swim. The COPD can limit the effectiveness of bronchodilators but you might want to check with your doctor whether there is more medical management that could be done. Pursed lip breathing can also help.

I find that my asthma really limits my ability to go "all out" for an extended period of time because if you breathe too hard you really limit your air exchange. I find I have to be very conscious of keeping my breathing under control.

Where TI can really help you: TI proposes that better swimming is mostly achieved by better technique, proper streamlining, reducing wasted energy, neural training, and much less by calisthenic overtraining.

I think you will find that you get great improvements by focusing on technique and pacing -- take it slow and easy and train yourself to breathe with ease.

One problem that often comes up is that TI promotes a longer stroke length and lower stroke rate. This means you breathe less often. You can deal with this in several ways -- by taking frequent rest intervals, or by rotating to sweet spot and getting several breaths before continuing, or by keeping your stroke rate faster but compensate by pulling less vigorously.

Try to keep your heartrate fairly low, that can keep you from overtaxing your lung capacity. For longer distances I try to keep it under 130 or even lower.
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Old 05-13-2009
shuumai shuumai is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madvet View Post
Unfortunately, it is a myth that you can "strengthen" your lungs. Your lungs are a passive gas exchanger built like a sponge and since your COPD has "clogged up" a significant part of the sponge your lung capacity is dimished. And age alone causes degeneration of lung capacity which is a major limiter in the athletic performance of older athletes.
(Don't be annoyed by my phrasing everything as a question.)

Before anything else, when breathing every stroke cycle, there isn't much time for breath holding. If the breath is being held, maybe that is the cause of some of the trouble.

Is it possible to...stretch lung tissue?

The strengthening devices are designed to work the muscles that manipulate the lungs, not the lungs themselves. But then, try breathing after being hit in the diaphragm. Muscles matter as well.

Doesn't exercise improve the body's ability to distribute and use oxygen more efficiently, reducing the overall amount of air exchange needed? Better technique definitely reduces the amount of air exchange needed.

Couldn't breathing problems be improved by better breathing technique like deeper, diaphragmic breathing?
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Old 05-13-2009
woody-som woody-som is offline
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as someone who was diagnosed with asthma last year I know what its like on both sides. I find I have to swim a lot slower, or I will quickly run out of puff, even if I use the ventolin before. All I can suggest is to slow it down, and where I use to breath every 3 or 5 strokes, i now have to breath every other, real pain in the rear, but I have to find a work around, and if you experiment yo will find something that works for you. Whats really annoying for me is that a swimming pool caused my asthma (2.5x recomended combined chlorine level)
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Old 05-13-2009
shuumai shuumai is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woody-som View Post
Whats really annoying for me is that a swimming pool caused my asthma (2.5x recomended combined chlorine level)
Sucks. Is your asthma permanent? If it's going on summertime where you live, would swimming outside make it any better?

One reason my wife avoids the indoor pool, other than the wetness and the need for a bathing suit, is the chlorine in the air. Sometimes the lifeguards have a fan or two running to mix the stagnant gas near the surface with some air. Then I guess the ventilation system has a better chance to vent it out.

BTW, for some cases of asthma, probiotics have been known to help.

Hmm, I wonder if I have asthma to some degree. I've never had good lung capacity. It's been a while, but in the past when I would laugh real hard, I would get a little wheezy. (I need to laugh like that again.)
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Old 05-14-2009
woody-som woody-som is offline
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shuumai, my asthma is permanent, but was caused by me swimming in different pool just once, one that I was due to do a triathlon in a month later. I never took part in that or anything since. swim, run and cycle slower now, as well as run and cycle shorter distances. Only thing I do more is swim further, but slower than before, may be a good thing, well I have to try and find a possitive somewhere.

my normal pools, are fine, one is virtually chlorine free, the other has normal regulation levels, but is cold, and again no problems.

chris
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Old 05-14-2009
shuumai shuumai is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woody-som View Post
shuumai, my asthma is permanent, but was caused by me swimming in different pool just once, one that I was due to do a triathlon in a month later. I never took part in that or anything since. swim, run and cycle slower now, as well as run and cycle shorter distances. Only thing I do more is swim further, but slower than before, may be a good thing, well I have to try and find a possitive somewhere.

my normal pools, are fine, one is virtually chlorine free, the other has normal regulation levels, but is cold, and again no problems.

chris
This reminds me of the thread about super-lean swimmers. If we assume that the person with asthma has perfect breathing technique and is as healthy as possible, then no improvement can be made, assuming lung effectiveness can't be increased. BUT, who has perfect technique and health? There should always be a little room for improvement.

I wasn't too happy when a lifeguard started using a cleaning product on the deck while I was in the pool. It was a "green" product, but that doesn't mean harmless when inhaled. It's also important to realise that anything that you inhale you also swallow to a degree.

I hate to sound overly American, but it sounds like you could sue the pool operator and have your own pool. hehe

I wonder if anyone else was affected. Why was the chlorine so high? I know pools need to be "shocked" routinely, but toxic soup isn't good.
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Old 05-14-2009
shuumai shuumai is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Swamprat01 View Post
I am a 63 year old former smoker and firefighter.
I'm curious. How long has it been since you smoked? Was it cigarettes? Are you still around people who smoke?

When you were fighting fires, did you always have a respirator? Did you have many cases of smoke inhalation?

Some good news, from what I've heard, is that damage from smoking reverses itself to some degree after a number of years of breathing relatively clean air.

Here are a few interesting links I came across:

"The researchers found that taurine, an amino acid present in fish, restored normal vessel function in smokers..." http://www.nutraingredients.com/Rese...smoking-damage

"Researchers Studying Antioxidants To Reverse Lung Damage Caused By Smoking" http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/94982.php

I noticed that the following article mentions CoQ10 which is something I use routinely. My wife and I believe it gives us a little more energy, and I feel that some of my swimming breakthroughs--as far as breathing goes--are partly due to taking CoQ10. I suspected inefficient blood/oxygen transport. Since CoQ10 is concentrated in the heart, I figured it might help get my blood flowing better. It might have been a coincidence, but shortly after starting CoQ10, I saw improvements. (Don't take too much too late in the day or you might have trouble falling asleep.) http://www.mombu.com/medicine/heart/...l-2329302.html
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Old 05-14-2009
shuumai shuumai is offline
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Sorry if I'm getting carried away with links, but I really like this one. hehe Especially the "Nutritional Therapy" and "Non-drug Strategies" sections. I think I will print this one. Again, it mentions CoQ10. It also mentions omega-3 which I also take, and some other nutrients I have been mildly interested in.

http://www.lef.org/protocols/respiratory/copd_01.htm
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