Respiratory response to effort, coupled to inhalation and exhalation, for experienced and novice students in breathing therapy.


Increasing muscle tension naturally couples to inhalation and exhalation tends to facilitate relaxation. This combination is often used in relaxation instruction. However, executing a movement during exhalation tends to improve coordination and reduce unnecessary effort. This effect requires practice and experience. In this study a specific movement is instructed: pushing both feet in the sitting position to the floor and releasing the effort. The feet are in front of the knees and the movement therefore results in a backward tilt of the pelvis, which is functionally coupled to exhalation. The push is for some time explicitly coupled to exhalation and for some time to inhalation. After each combination, the subjective response was noted on a checklist of experiences. It contained 12 descriptors of positive breathing response, four of more negative direction and 11 descriptors of location of perceived breathing. The instruction was given to 41 experienced students (ES) of breathing therapy and to 40 novice students (NS), participating in an introductory workshop. ES was experienced in making effort during exhalation, but not familiar with the specific instruction.

ES reported five out of 11 descriptors of breathing movement and NS about two (p < 0.001), for both combinations. About 3,5 out of 12 positive descriptors were noted after pushing with inhalation in both groups, but pushing with exhalation increased the number in ES to 4,2 and reduced it in NS to 1,9 (p < 0.001). Negative experiences occurred less frequently, only 0.5 out of 4 descriptors. In ES they were more frequent after inhalation, in NS after exhalation.

It is concluded that for novice students inhaling during effort is easy and influences breathing, but they are less able to obtain a positive response with a more functional coupling of breathing and effort than experienced students.



Jan van Dixhoorn

Centre for Breathing Therapy

F van Blankenheymstraat 10

3817 AG Amersfoort, The Netherlands