Breathing muscle fatigue at longer threshold intervals

Did a 3 x 20 min at ftp. The first interval was ok but towards the second interval my diaphragm started to hurt. During a recovery it abated but returned in the middle of the third interval and was worse than the leg pain or mental fatigue.

It happened to me once already during a 20 min uphill race last year. It felt like spasms in the diaphragm and took a while after to recover. I am mindful of breathing, exhale deeply and breath normally (not hyperventilating or shallow breath). I didn’t have similar experience during my ramp tests, although during the last one I was wheezing pretty bad.

Does someone have a similar experience? Is there something I can do to improve my breathing? I searched only briefly on found an article on respiratory muscles fatigue that I will look into but personal experience might be useful too!

Respiratory fatigue is common in Asthmatics. If you have wheezing, go see
asthma specialist.

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Maybe your mindfulness is causing you to overuse your diaphragm versus your other respiratory muscles? What happens if you just let yourself breathe naturally?

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@Clifford I haven’t mentioned it but I have a slight allergy that will cause some coughing and wheezing after supra threshold efforts when done outside. I didn’t think it would be related to the diaphragm but it seems so from what you said. Thanks.

@old_but_not_dead_yet If I breathe naturally I will start hyperventilating sooner - the lack of oxygen will cause shallower and faster breathing.

Please see asthma specialist, not your PCP. WorkUp, usually requires Pulmonary Function tests, full history and physical exam. If you do have asthma it is important for your health to have it properly treated, particularly as an endurance athlete. Let me know what transpires. Stay healthy.

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My breathing sometimes gets faint after very long 6+ hour rides and I can start to feel out of breath, but it’s more like my lungs are tired (as well as everything else) and I have no pain.

I assume that article you referred to is talking about this rather than anything that could cause pain, which I assume might mean an underlying condition or sensitivity of some sort. Go see someone.

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Thanks. I didn’t think it was something to be worried about as it usually only comes with exertion. I’ve started looking into it and it shouldn’t be a problem to see an asthma specialist - spiroergometry seems standard including whole history of problems. Will let you know!

Hello again,

Asthma is a condition where you have inflammation in the airways. Many asthmatics who do not see asthmatic specialists, will use inhalers only to treat the flair ups during exercise. Many asthmatics who think they are just problematic during exercise, actually have chronic asthma

with chronic inflammation of the airways. This can be treated effectively for most people. This is why I stress seeing an asthma specialist, not

your PCP. Please let me know what transpires, and stay healthy.

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I am sorry for the delayed answer but it took some time to get an appointment with a pneumologist. I was diagnosed with exercise and seasonal asthma (I do have some pollen allergies) and got a prescription for Ventolin (salbutamol) inhaler. I’ve used it once (actually twice but first time I didn’t take the cover off :man_facepalming: worked anyway). I was still breathing hard and coughing slightly after three 3-4 min max efforts but it went away on a minute and I also didn’t have any diaphragm pain. I’ll need some more experience with it to judge the effect but I reserve the use only for the potentially problematic sessions. Thanks again for your concern!

Thanks so much for the feedback. I am glad you are feeling better with the inhaler.
Just in time for the Tour de France.
Clifford Stoller

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If you should need any further suggestions regarding asthma please do not hesitate to reach out. As a child hood asthmatic, now 66, I have done a lot of research, reading to get the best treatment for my asthma. I was able to reach a cat 3 level, with some race results. This is not to boast, it would not
of been possible with out correct treatment.


Cheers again. I will see how it helps when I have more tough sessions behind me or when the allergy season hits again in the spring.