Valsalva Maneuver!

As a personal trainer, have you been prescribing valsalva maneuver to all of your client? 

Wait, read this!

VALSALVA MANEUVER! (One of the breathing technique used in resistance training.) How it works

In this breathing practice, the glottis (the narrowest part of the larynx) is closed to keep air from escaping the lungs while the muscles of the abdomen and rib cage contract. This results in the person’s trying to exhale against a closed “throat.” The outcome is that the diaphragm and the deep muscles of the torso contract and generate intra-abdominal pressure against the fluid ball, which aids in supporting the vertebral column internally, from the inside out, and significantly reduces the effort required of other muscles (e.g., the low back muscles during the back squat exercise) to perform the exercise. Thus, the client is better able to maintain correct posture and body alignment. The following are two breathing options, with sample verbal directions, that a personal trainer can give to advanced clients who are performing exercises that involve the Valsalva maneuver.

  • Option 1 : Inhale during the eccentric phase until just before starting the concentric phase; hold the breath through the sticking point; then exhale. Verbal directions: “Take a breath in during the easiest part of the exercise; hold your breath until the hardest part of the exercise is completed, and then exhale.”
  • Option 2: Inhale prior to beginning a repetition; hold the breath through the sticking point of the concentric phase; then exhale. Verbal directions: “Take a breath in before starting a repetition; hold your breath until the hardest part of the exercise is completed, and then exhale.”

Have you seen people fainting and losing consciousness in the gym or have you experience blackout during your workout, specially after heavyweight training.?

Yes, this is majorly because of the breathing pattern that we use during exercise.

Many fitness professionals are recommending using of VM pattern to give safety to spine and generate maximum muscle force knowingly or unknowingly without understanding clients level.

Despite its advantages, the Valsalva maneuver causes an increase in the pressure in the chest that can have the undesirable side effect of exerting compressive forces on the heart, making venous return more difficult. Also, the Valsalva maneuver can momentarily raise blood pressure to high levels that may cause dizziness, rapid-onset fatigue, blood vessel rupture, disorientation, and blackouts.

Therefore, a personal trainer should not permit clients with any known or suspected cardiovascular, metabolic, or respiratory condition to hold their breath during resistance exercise. Personal trainers who conduct maximum or near-maximum muscular strength tests need to be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of encouraging or allowing their clients to use the Valsalva maneuver. While it is important that the vertebral column be internally supported during these testing situations for safety and technique reasons, it is recommended that a client not overextend the time that the breath is held.

Even resistance-trained and technique experienced clients should be advised to hold their breath only momentarily (e.g., 1 to 2 seconds).

So, can everyone who is coming to gym for general fitness do VM?

NO! especially novice (person who is new to the workout or resistance training) and people with medical conditions. all types of cardiovascular problems.

For Beginners and Intermediate-

Inhale while going down (eccentric phase or easiest phase of exercise, and exhale while coming up against the gravity (concentric phase or toughest phase of exercise)

Source : Journal of strength and conditioning research / National Strength & Conditioning Association, Essentials of Personal Training