Athlete Rhen Nealon using mouth-only breathing during research-based exercise at Southern Cross University.
Athlete Rhen Nealon using mouth-only breathing during research-based exercise at Southern Cross University. John Waddell

Sport clips are on the nose

USING a snorkel or nose clip during exercise, a popular practice in combat sports, doesn't only make you look rather silly, but has no effect on athletic performance.

That's according to research conducted by Dr Rudi Meir from Southern Cross University's School of Health and Human Sciences.

He said his research suggests using a nose clip or snorkel to restrict nasal breathing in sports such as mixed martial arts and boxing is largely futile, but believes more research would be beneficial.

"This research was an example of a current practice in athlete training driving research. I have been interested in this strategy for a while and as a strength and conditioning coach I have used this method while involved with professional Rugby Sevens teams," he said.

"However, it was simply an idea and so I needed to establish if this type of training actually had any acute effect on the athlete. That means, did breathing only through the mouth while exercising affect an athlete when considering the time it took to complete the exercise, heart rate, rate of perceived exertion, blood lactate and respiratory measures?"

Dr Meir recruited 10 male participants to partake in high-intensity 20m shuttle runs with and without a nose clip, finding that "the use of restricted nasal breathing as a method of increasing the acute physiological training effect on athletes is questionable".

"The assumption being that by restricting the volume of air moved through either the nose or mouth it would result in a reduced arterial oxygen concentration and slow down the removal of CO2 and other metabolites produced during strenuous exercise.

"Such a theory might have some merit; however, as can be seen from the results of this study, the application of a nose clip to restrict nasal breathing during high-intensity short duration exercise had no statistically significant effect."



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