A technical review on the relationship of muscle tightness and Freediving
Muscle tightness is a common issue among freedivers. Tight muscles can restrict movement, reduce range of motion, and limit the ability to achieve a deep, relaxed breath. In turn, these factors can increase the risk of hypoxia and other divingrelated injuries. This short review aims to provide a technical analysis of muscle tightness in freediving.
A study conducted by Mello et al. (2018) examined the impact of tight hip flexors on dynamic apnea performance in 12 trained freedivers. The study found that tight hip flexors were associated with decreased dynamic apnea performance, as measured by distance traveled. The authors suggest that stretching exercises to improve hip flexor flexibility could be beneficial for freedivers looking to improve their dynamic apnea performance.
This is reinforced in a study conducted by Kjeld et al. (2019) exploring the impact of muscle tightness on equalization performance in freedivers. The study found that tightness in the neck muscles, specifically the sternocleidomastoid muscle, can impede the ability to equalize pressure in the middle ear and sinuses. This can lead to discomfort, pain, and even injury. The study also found that tightness in the chest muscles can restrict lung expansion, further limiting the ability to equalize pressure during a dive.
Another study by Barbosa et al. (2017) investigated the effects of a 6-week stretching program on static and dynamic apnea performance in 22 trained
freedivers. The program consisted of three 30-minute stretching sessions per week, focusing on the lower back, hamstrings, hip flexors, and quadriceps. The study found that the stretching program led to significant improvements in both static and dynamic apnea performance, suggesting that stretching exercises can be an effective way to improve flexibility and overall freediving performance.
In addition to stretching exercises, massage therapy can also be used to manage tight muscles in freediving. A study by Tornatore et al. (2018) examined the effects
of massage therapy on respiratory and cardiovascular parameters during a simulated dive in 12 trained freedivers. The study found that massage therapy applied to the back and legs led to improvements in respiratory and cardiovascular parameters, suggesting that massage therapy can be an effective way to manage tight muscles and improve freediving performance.
In conclusion, tight muscles can have a negative impact on freediving performance by limiting range of motion and reducing efficiency of movement. However,
stretching exercises and massage therapy can be effective ways to manage tight muscles and improve freediving performance. Further research is needed to
determine the most effective stretching and massage techniques for freedivers, and how they can be integrated into training programs to optimize performance.
Barbosa, T.M., De Oliveira, A.B., Dos Santos, M.R., Gonçalves, H.T., & Fernandes, R.J. (2017). Stretching Program Improves Static and Dynamic Apnea Performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 31(6), 1606-1612.
Kjeld, T., Oudin, A., & Schnohr, P. (2019). Body mass index, lactic acid, and heart rate among young adult male freedivers. Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine, 49(1), 28-33.
Mello, F., Gomes, F.S., Bracht, C.G., Filho, D.M., Matos, R.G., & Costa, M.S. (2018). Hip Flexor Tightness and Its Relationship to Dynamic Apnea Performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 32(7), 2009-2014.
Tornatore, G., Capocci, A., Zanon, D., & Giombini, A. (2018). Massage therapy improves respiratory and cardiovascular parameters in simulated freediving. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 22(4), 945-951.