Curled up in the foetal position at the end of my first erg sprint of the season, rocking back and forth and whimpering gently, I genuinely thought I might have done my lungs some serious damage. They were burning so much I was convinced I’d ripped them and the pain took forever to subside. It was horrible. But help was at hand. After I’d moaned about it on Twitter, a rowing friend put me on to the POWERbreathe which he promised would help.

The POWERbreathe is a little device that provides resistance training for your diaphragm and intercostal muscles. You breathe through it 30 times, twice a day, and it claims it’ll strengthen your breathing muscles and improve your endurance. This is what the website has to say about it:

I can’t deny I was pretty sceptical. It all seemed a bit too good to be true, but the prospect of that lung-burning, metal-tasting sensation in every race of the season was enough to convince me to try it out. The people at POWERbreathe recommended I try the POWERbreathe Plus (the medium resistance one) and kindly gave me one to try. So for the past six weeks I’ve been diligently breathing through this device twice a day.

And the amazing thing is it works. I thought at first I was imagining it. When we sprinted in training sessions and my lungs seemed OK, I thought it was because we weren’t in a race situation. And when we raced at Evesham, I assumed the improvement in my lung function was down to the fact that I was steering (if that’s what you’d call my disastrous attempts to get us down the course) so not able to put 100% effort into the stroke.

But it was well and truly put to the test this weekend when we raced flat out in one of the hardest-fought races of my life. Sure, I did a bit of coughing later and my lungs felt stretched. But there was none of the pain, none of the metallic taste in my mouth and, equally importantly, I didn’t go through that terrible phase early on in the race when you start to fear your lungs just aren’t big enough for all the air.

So I’m a convert and I highly recommend it. Yes, it’s a bit of a chore to use it twice a day, but it’s so worth it for the result.

And breathe…

The POWERbreathe Plus costs £49.99 and is available in a range of colours from POWERbreathe.

Note: the POWERbreathe was given to me for review purposes but I received no payment for this post and my view is honest and independent, as always.

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