CrossFit Discussion Board  

Go Back   CrossFit Discussion Board > In Sickness and In Health > Health and Medical Issues
CrossFit Home Forum Site Rules CrossFit FAQ Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Health and Medical Issues For other than injuries

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 06-10-2010, 01:06 PM   #1
Ryan Jones
Member Ryan Jones is offline
 
Ryan Jones's Avatar
 
Profile:
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Long Beach  CA
Posts: 527
Crossfit and Asthma

I'm not sure where to start here, but is there any hope for my lungs, and should I be doing anything different?

I had pretty bad asthma as a kid, was even hospitalized a few times. Between living with asthma and with a dog I was unknowingly allergic to for years, I developed the habit of taking very shallow breaths because they hurt less. As I've gotten older, the asthma rarely bothers me. Breathing cold air, allergic reactions to animals, and exercise all have the potential to restrict my airways and make breathing slightly more difficult. But I never have attacks anymore and I can't remember the last time I wheezed. I do still take very shallow breaths

All that being said, I've gone to a crossfit affiliate for the past two years and had dabbled in crossfit at the globogym for almost a year before that, and yet I still have no endurance. If a workout contains x rounds of 400m runs (or worse), I consider it a good workout if I can finish each leg of 400m without stopping. Running a mile while fresh is simply torture. I get gas'd after no time at all in every workout. Self-diagnosis told me I needed to break my shallow breath habit and force myself to focus on taking big deep breaths during exercise. This is very hard, it would seem my diaphragm is ridiculously out of shape. However, I think it is helping at least somewhat.

So I went to a doctor recently and took a number of breathing tests breathing into some large fancy machine. The doctor said a normal person would score 70% on each of these tests. My scores ranged from 30-60%. I asked if there was anything I could do to improve these scores, to improve my lung function, if there were any exercises I could do, if my breathing strategy above would work, or if any drugs could improve things. And he basically said no, those numbers will never go up, only down if I do negative things such as smoking. While taking a dose of albuterol did raise those scores 5-10% points, and will slightly improve things when I dose myself (which I do approximately 30 minutes before each workout), it is only a temporary thing to slightly improve function for a limited amount of time after each dose.

So, as I initially asked, am I permanently screwed? Am I doomed to forever finish last in all WODs? And regardless of the answer to that question, should my crossfit programming differ from the norm? Is an hour long filthy 50 helping me or hurting me or a waste of time for the last 30 minutes? Should I focus on shorter intervals? Or longer breaks between intervals?

Thanks in advance.
__________________
my crossfit turned SS log
  Reply With Quote
Old 06-10-2010, 05:36 PM   #2
Brian Strump
Affiliate Brian Strump is offline
 
Brian Strump's Avatar
 
Profile:
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Charlotte  NC
Posts: 2,619
Re: Crossfit and Asthma

Poor posture can attribute to asthma. Forward head posture will not only put stress on the brainstem and breathing centers, but also diminish the area where my lungs and heart are.

Find a chiropractor that helps with posture. We've seen good results with some of our patients.
__________________
Brian Strump, D.C., FMS, NKT
www.crossfitsteelecreek.com/
  Reply With Quote
Old 06-11-2010, 12:30 PM   #3
Jeff Martin
Affiliate Jeff Martin is offline
 
Jeff Martin's Avatar
 
Profile:
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Ramona  Ca.
Posts: 1,318
Re: Crossfit and Asthma

Ryan,
I feel for you with the asthma. I have had it pretty bad all my life and my boys have it as well. We tried fairly heavy doses of fish oil. My boys and I are fairly symptom free and we have been off meds for about three years. Hit me up if you want more info. JeffatCrossFitids.com
__________________
http://www.CrossFitKids.com
  Reply With Quote
Old 06-11-2010, 02:03 PM   #4
Melissa Whittle
Member Melissa Whittle is offline
 
Melissa Whittle's Avatar
 
Profile:
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Austin  TX
Posts: 1,029
Re: Crossfit and Asthma

Hi Ryan,

I've got problems with asthma that impact my workouts as well. Even when I don't have an actual attack, I feel like I just don't have the effective lung capacity that most people have. My half-brother is Crossfitter and a distance runner but he has asthma too and he's reported feeling the same way.

My cardiovascular endurance is still dreadful, but the one thing that I am pretty sure has helped my asthma is vitamin D. When I am taking it every day, I don't have attacks at all during WODs, or just mild ones when pollen is bad. I also had some success with taking Asmanex for a while (you take it once a day, it's not a rescue inhaler like albuterol).

If you have issues with shallow breathing, and want to focus on improving that, try training with a breathing ladder:

http://www.dragondoor.com/articler/mode3/72/ (w/f/s)

I can't claim it's fun, but it will get you to focus on taking deeper breaths and controlling your breathing. It's counter-intuitive, but you might find that it speeds up your movements too. Even taking all those breaks to breathe, exercise movements go much faster with better oxygen.

Good luck!

Edit:

Here's a longer article on breathing ladders:

http://www.gymjones.com/knowledge.php?id=27 (w/f/s)

It works great with burpees by the way.
__________________
Visit my workout log

Last edited by Melissa Whittle; 06-11-2010 at 02:09 PM..
  Reply With Quote
Old 06-11-2010, 04:55 PM   #5
Ryan Jones
Member Ryan Jones is offline
 
Ryan Jones's Avatar
 
Profile:
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Long Beach  CA
Posts: 527
Re: Crossfit and Asthma

Thanks, I do take fish oil, any suggestions on dosage? I'd recently been reading some similar things about vitamin D and was going to start taking that as well. I'll try out some of that breathing ladder stuff as well. I already focus entirely on breathing (and not heel striking) while running and I think its helping even though it kills my chest. I also try to create breathing strategies during exercises and focus on keeping a rhythm and that seems to help some as well.

Stopping attacks isn't an issue though. As I don't have any overt symptoms of asthma, and aside from my persistent godawful endurance I feel as if I don't have asthma anymore. I stopped taking the asthma meds long ago and only started up again when a trainer suggested I start taking the albuterol before workouts, which apparently was a good suggestion as evidenced by the breathing tests I took.

Thanks for the advice.

edit:

OK, just read the breathing ladder articles, I actually do that sort of thing in workouts now. For example if the workout is 100 burpees, I'll break it down into 20 sets of 5 burpees and 8 deep breaths or so. And if I can stay on this pace I'll be very happy. Usually when I set a pace for myself I'll have to add a second or a breath here or there as things go on, or i'll be less strict about the hyperventilating before I start the counted deep breaths heh. For another example in Karen not so long ago (150 wallballs for time), I set myself a pace of 10 wall balls and then x seconds rest. I forget how long the rest was which is a shame because that worked rather well albeit painful, I even finished first in my heat which pretty much never happens. I changed the strategy from counted breaths to seconds because our gym just got a new clock on the wall that keeps the times for the workouts and it seemed more precise. That said, I still cheated a bit by taking longer to turn around and check the time to start my rest clock, heh. Damn, I hope I wrote down how long my rests were so I can shave off a second for next time.
__________________
my crossfit turned SS log

Last edited by Ryan Jones; 06-11-2010 at 05:01 PM..
  Reply With Quote
Old 06-17-2010, 05:20 AM   #6
Robert Pierce
Member Robert Pierce is offline
 
Robert Pierce's Avatar
 
Profile:
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Fulton  Missouri
Posts: 1,187
Re: Crossfit and Asthma

Patient with longstanding asthma can and do sometimes develop fixed structural abnormalities in their lungs and lung function. However, asthma is generally considered to be reversible airway obstruction and the improvement you had with albuterol indicates reversibility. Any degree of reversibility would suggest that you might benefit from proper medication such as an inhaled corticosteroid, a long acting bronchodilator (LABA, but NEVER without an inhaled corticosteroid), a type of drug called a leukotriene inhibitor (Singulair) or perhaps others.

I might consider asking another doc about your pulmonary function test results. From what you have told me, I would definitely consider a med trial.
__________________
My medical posts are not intended to be medical advice or treatment. Consult your physician for that information.
  Reply With Quote
Old 06-17-2010, 11:00 AM   #7
Chad Ryan
Member Chad Ryan is offline
 
Chad Ryan's Avatar
 
Profile:
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Bloomington  IN
Posts: 72
Re: Crossfit and Asthma

Life long asthmatic with a story much like yours. I was hospitalized a number of times as a kid. I am on daily control meds (Advair) which definitely helps.

Through Crossfit I have seen a significant improvement in my cardio but running still gets me. Honestly, a lot of times I will sub running for rowing in WODs because if I am running 400m or 800m I probably won't finish the workout. If I sub rowing a lot of times I can still maintain a strong and respectable time.

I hope that in the future I will be able to increase my endurance with running but until then I will keep subbing rowing for running and keep working on my running outside of the WODs...baby steps.

I will definitely look into vitamin D and fish oil.
  Reply With Quote
Old 06-17-2010, 01:58 PM   #8
Ryan Jones
Member Ryan Jones is offline
 
Ryan Jones's Avatar
 
Profile:
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Long Beach  CA
Posts: 527
Re: Crossfit and Asthma

Thanks for the further advice. I've emailed my doctor and we'll see what he says. Also next month our gym is doing a paleo challenge so I'm interested in seeing what effect completely removing dairy and grains and of course sugar from my diet will have.
__________________
my crossfit turned SS log
  Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-2010, 11:16 AM   #9
John Martinez
Member John Martinez is offline
 
Profile:
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: San Diego  CA
Posts: 1
Re: Crossfit and Asthma

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan Jones View Post
Thanks, I do take fish oil, any suggestions on dosage? I'd recently been reading some similar things about vitamin D and was going to start taking that as well.
Ryan,

The medical studies I've seen looking at fish oil supplementation in athletes with asthma had the athletes on roughly 3 grams a day (combined EPA + DHA).

The vitamin D connect to asthma and other diseases is pretty interesting. The research does show that if you're in the bottom 25% as far as vitamin D levels then you have a higher rate/incidence of certain diseases such as asthma when compared to people in the top 25% of vitamin D levels.

I think what still needs to be determined is whether supplementing with vitamin D in the lower vitamin D group makes a long term impact on diseases such as asthma, or is the vitamin D deficiency a sign of a bigger health problem.

Michael Holick, PhD, MD has been part of a lot of the vitamin D research and has a very well written book on the topic. If I recall, his current recommendation for vitamin D supplementation is 2000-4000 IU depending on what the initial vitamin D levels are.

-John
__________________
-Doc John
San Diego, CA
  Reply With Quote
Old 06-26-2010, 03:04 PM   #10
Albert Chang
Member Albert Chang is offline
 
Profile:
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Acton  MA
Posts: 513
Re: Crossfit and Asthma

I don't think my asthma was that bad. But I know that if I didn't take it before a workout, during the next workout, regardless of whether I took it again or not, I'd have some serious issues since my lungs wouldn't have enough time to recover. I remember two years ago, I had serious issues even running just 1 mile after not doing it for only a week.

Since March, I haven't used my inhaler. A bit of a shame because that's when the pharmacy ran out of the regular kind, so I had to get one that was a little more expensive. I still feel like my lung capacity isn't the same as most people though.

However, I've noticed on the paleo diet, my asthma is a lot more controlled. I discovered this when I went on paleo, my asthma improved significantly, and when I went off paleo asthma seemed to be worse. Will confirm when I go back on paleo. I suspect here ymmv.

Another thing I've noticed is while performing a WOD, I don't breathe the same way as before. I'm not sure whether that was a result of my asthma receding, or if my asthma symptoms reduced because of it.

Will look into breathing ladders to see if that's what I do.

Edit

That's not what I do, although it was introduced to me a few weeks ago. My breaths have now become a lot deeper and fuller.

Last edited by Albert Chang; 06-26-2010 at 03:07 PM..
  Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
CF and asthma Robin Davis Health and Medical Issues 27 08-27-2009 03:53 PM
CF for some with Asthma Mike Marin Fitness 3 05-15-2008 09:27 PM
Asthma Pavel Saenz Injuries 4 05-23-2007 05:15 AM
Doing Crossfit with Asthma Jeremy Kam Fitness 37 03-01-2005 12:24 PM


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 06:33 AM.


CrossFit is a registered trademark of CrossFit Inc.