John Shepherd looks the scientific evidence for electrical muscle stimulation, and whether athletes could use it not just for recovery, but for fitness gains too MORE
The supposed benefits are literally a widening of the nostrils, reducing resistance to air flow, thereby allowing easier breathing (the strips were originally developed to assist sleep and help people with breathing problems).
Are they any use? Scientific research has shown that it is the function of the muscles and/or the cardiovascular system that are the limiting factors in healthy human performance. Research carried out many years ago showed that if a resting athlete voluntarily hyperventilates, he/she can supply air to the lungs at a greater rate even than that demanded by maximal exercise. Similarly, even when an athlete is exercising at maximal capacity, he/she can breathe faster and/or deeper when asked to do so. Again, this suggests that the volume of air transferred in and out of the lungs is not a limiting factor to performance..
At first glance, then, the theoretical basis for using the nose strips is rather weak. However, the psychological argument is strong, since no elite athlete wants to be disadvantaged by missing out on any potential ergogenic aid. Hence the widespread use of the nose strips. Until scientific investigation comments on their value, athletes will no doubt continue to use them. Such an investigation may well be carried out very soon at the sports science laboratory at Chester College of Higher Education! Watch this space..