View Full Version : returning swimmer - asthmatic solutions?

May 6th, 2005, 09:25 PM
Hi all, i have just joined this forum. I am a 24 yr old female, who competive swam for 5 years from 1993-98. I am now getting back into the water again and have totally lost my lung capacity. .I had excercise induced asthma when i swam back in the day, but it was not a problem. now i am finding that i have to stop my workouts becuase i feel like i cannot get enough air. . i have started using an inhaler, but i still need to build my lungs up again. . .can anyone give any advice, exercises i could do to slowly bring me up again? i am breathing every 3 strokes about 90% of my workouts - which by the way are on my own - uncoached. but i am gasping for air coming out of my flip turns. . .any advice would be great! thanks a lot!

May 6th, 2005, 10:07 PM
Get in shape, no flip turns, breathe one side for - one length right side, one length left side. Save the bilateral stuff for later. Some people just keep breathing in and don't breathe out. Get distance under your belt. Swim 3 months steady, after 3 months you can grind.

You will get lots of opinions I am sure, but don't rush to hard work.


May 8th, 2005, 11:18 AM

Definitely don't rush the hard work. I also had EIA when I swam high school (only 4 years ago, but still), and discovered upon returning to the water that my "low-maintenence" sports asthma was now a high maintenence demon.

After a few really bad practices (flip-turn gasping, dying after a set and all), I realized that I was expecting way too much out of my body than it could put up with.

Advice from a fellow EIA girl? Take it easy for awhile. Your lungs will get back into shape as your body gets back into shape.

But if you're like me, and you aren't patient enough for it, try this:

If you have a steam room at your Y (or wherever you swim), that will work wonders at the end of a workout. I swear by it (Saunas, however, with the dry heat, are BAAAAAD). Also, you can do some work with holding your breath, like underwater in the deep end, and that will re-accustom your lungs to not breathing in and out regularly (I have a thing where I use diving bricks to anchor me underwater, and that has helped ten-fold).

Final thought: Until your lungs get back into "shape", slow down your swimming and/or breathe every two. Often, I breathe every two and mix it up with three every now and then.

Most importantly, listen to your lungs. If they're telling you they need air (technically, your lungs only have a "sensor" telling you when you have too much CO2 in your system, but as an asthmatic, you know the feeling I'm talking about) take a breath! For now, just focus on getting back into a breathing pattern.

You might also want to talk to your doctor and find out if there are any actual exercises you can do to improve lung function (because I'm pretty much just going on my own here)


May 8th, 2005, 07:46 PM
You might want to practice "squared breathing". You inhale to a count of 8 (slowly), hold your breath for a count of eight, exhale to a count of eight and again hold for a count of eight. Repeat that up to ten times and concentrate on inhaling "from the bottom clear up to your collar bones and after you hold, exhale slowly but fully. You may only be able to do this "square" a few times at first but with practice it will get easier. You can do this several times per day. Somebody mentioned above that some people tend to inhale too much and don't exhale all the way - I agree and this exercise trains you to do inhale and exhale equally. Oh, and if a count of 8 is too easy, try 10. Just another idea - good luck!

May 10th, 2005, 07:08 PM
I have severe asthma, only 62% lung capacity. About the only time I don't have some discomfort is when I'm swimming. Take your medicines. follow either a pulmonologist(sp) or an allergist. My experieince has been that pulomo's do a better job at controlling asthma than do allergists. I've found this to be true even in controlling my allergies. I'm suffering my annual red bumps right now. No allergist (from George Washington to Washington Univ.) has ever been able to curb them but my pulmo here in Galesburg at least can keep down. Also, remember that it isn't taking in oxygen that gets asthmatics in trouble, it is getting the air in your lungs out.

May 11th, 2005, 01:54 PM
Janelle -- I also have to do an inhaler. Today I forgot to take a blast before going out for my workout. I consdered getting out of the pool and going back to my locker for a puff, but the pool was filling up fast and I decided to gut it out rather than risk losing a lane.

Big mistake, today. :(

Listen to your body. Pull back a bit when your lungs are yelling at you and when your limbs seem to weigh a ton. Shorten your stroke a bit so that you get one extra breath each length. (meaning, you take some extra strokes each length.) Take longer recovery rests between sets. Do shorter sets. I managed to finish my planned distance today, but certainly not at the quality or time I was expecting when I left the house.

You will have stronger days. Revel in them. Just be sure not to push yourself beyond what your body can handle right now.

May 12th, 2005, 12:46 PM
I just read my previous entry. It should have said 72%, sorry. Do you know that many researches believe that inhalers are the second-ranked device after refrigerators in causing the depletion of the ozone layer. I highly recommend using a nebulizer. The new portable nebulizers that have a battery are extremely compact and will fit into most backpack, purses, and gym bags. The electricity they use is not as damaging as the release of ozone-depleting chemicals. Also sincer most asthmatics don'e use their inhalers correctly, you will get more of the medicine into your lungs. The new, compact inhalers are covered by many insurance plans.

Asthmatics must always remember the problem isn't getting air in, it's getting air out.

May 17th, 2005, 07:13 PM
hey thanks all for the words of advice. .. i think the inhaler is making things a bit better. . now i just have to work on teaching people at the pool good swim etiquette!

clyde hedlund
May 20th, 2005, 01:10 AM
Advair really helps me. Clyde