What are breath holding contractions?
Breath holding contractions (BHCCs) are involuntary muscle contractions that occur when you are holding your breath underwater. These contractions are your body’s way of trying to get you to take a breath and can be very uncomfortable. They usually start around 30 seconds after you start holding your breath and can last for several seconds.
BHCCs can be mild or strong, and some people even report feeling them in their arms and legs. If you are new to freediving, it is important to be aware of these contractions so that you can take a break before they become too strong. When BHCCs become severe, they can cause you to black out underwater.
There are a few things that you can do to help prevent BHCCs:
- Take slow, deep breaths before you start your dive
- Start with shallow dives and gradually work your way down
- Avoid sudden changes in depth
- Relax your body and mind as much as possible
How can they be prevented?
There are a few ways to help prevent BPCs.
- Make sure you are well-hydrated before freediving.
- Avoid drinking alcohol before freediving.
- Warm up properly before freediving, with both a general warm-up and specific freediving exercises.
- Use a wetsuit or other thermal protection while freediving, especially in cold water.
- Do not try to hold your breath for too long – know your limits and stay within them.
- Breathe evenly and calmly while freediving, avoiding any sudden deep breaths or gasping.
How do they affect freediving?
It has been shown that during breath holding there is an increase in heart rate early on during the contraction, followed by a decrease during the rest period. This repeated increase and decrease in heart rate is called a respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA). RSA has been found to be an important factor in freediving performance.
So how does this work? When you start to hold your breath, your body signals the need for more oxygen by increasing your heart rate. This increases the amount of blood flow to your muscles and brain, giving you more energy to hold your breath for a longer period of time. However, as your oxygen levels start to drop, your body starts to panic and slows down your heart rate in an attempt to conserve energy.
The problem is that when your heart rate slows down, less blood is being pumped to your muscles and brain, making it harder for you to hold your breath. This is why it’s so important to stay calm while freediving, because if you get too anxious, your heart rate will start to drop and you will end up blacking out.
So how can you use RSA to improve your freediving performance? The key is to control your breathing so that you maintain a steady heart rate throughout the entire breath hold. This can be done by breathing slowly and evenly until you reach maximal inspiration (when your lungs are full), then holding your breath for 10 seconds before taking another breath. Doing this will ensure that you have enough oxygen in your system when RSA starts to occur, and it will also help you stay calm and relaxed while freediving.
What are the consequences of breath holding contractions?
Breath holding contractions, also called BHCs, have a number of consequences. The first is that they can cause blackouts. BHCs occur when the body’s oxygen level drops and the brain starts to shut down. This can happen even if you’re not holding your breath. Second, BHCs can cause lung overexpansion injuries. This happens when the lungs expand too much and rupture. Finally, BHCs can cause hypoxia, which is when the body doesn’t have enough oxygen.