Thursday, 7 August 2014

Shoving things up my nose.... for science.


Nasal strips, cotton wool, plastic clips, everyone is shoving something on or up their noses these days looking for an edge. I've finally decided to put these methods to the test myself.

In 2008 I had endoscopic sinus surgery on my sinuses (including septoplasty and turbinectomies). In summary, I had a permanently blocked sinus and left nostril, so it was operated on... and they did some airway renovations while they were there. Giving nose-birth to the packing post operation was definitely a highlight.


Right, onto testing these nose products/methods...

Equipment:

Wahoo Kicker (10mins warm up, spindown calibration performed).
Garmin ANT+ heart rate strap.
Garmin 800.
Specialized S-Works Shiv TT bike (Tests 1-4) with a Quarq power meter.
Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL4 road bike (Test 5) also with a Quarq.

Method & Tests:

4 minute constant ergo efforts with the Wahoo Kickr set to 350W holding a cadence of ~100rpm. Each interval started with 2 minutes on the TT bars, then 2 minutes off the TT bars on the 'outs'.



Test 1 - Nothing up my nose.
Test 2 - Rhinomed Turbine.
Test 3 - Blocked nose.
Test 4 - Cotton wool balls dipped in inhalant decongestant pre interval
Test 5 - Nothing again... On the Tarmac road bike.

Results: 


Test 1 - Stock standard interval.

Test 2 - Getting the Turbine to sit right required some finger gymnastics. Not the most pleasant thing to get into place. Breathing in though the nose felt easier, at the cost of comfort. Clearing the airways (blowing my nose, or rocket snotting) was difficult during the interval. Mouth breathing far outweighed airflow through the nose.

Test 3 - Nose completely blocked was initially uncomfortable for the first 30 seconds. Mouth breathing more than adequate.

Test 4 - Initial stinging when the decongestant dipped cotton wool touched the Turbine scrape points. The decongestant worked, clearing my airways prior to the interval. Decongestant smell went away at about 2 minutes.

Test 5 - Bike swap to the road bike. Full 4 minutes done in standard upright road position may have contributed to lower overall HR for this interval.



Conclusion:

The feeling of having more airflow though my nose (by use of a device, decongestant, or clearing it) had no positive influence on my average HR or perceived effort for these 4min/350W intervals. I guess Mum was right, don't put things up my nose, and use a tissue to blow it.

So why didn't I see an improvement with 'more air' through my nose or a variance in results with a completely blocked nose?

"The hemoglobin in our blood dictates how much oxygen gets to the working muscle. Hemoglobin is a protein connected to red blood cells. It is responsible for transporting the oxygen in the blood to the muscles that require it. During exercise the hemoglobin sites are usually 100% saturated with oxygen. This means that it does not matter if you take in more oxygen by wearing the nasal dilator, because the rate at which oxygen can travel from the lungs to the blood is at a maximum." - Do Nasal Dilator Strips Help Performance? Michael Carrera, MSc. and Natasha Vani, MSc.

Oxygen intake isn't a limiter. The journey for that 'edge' continues....

3 comments:

Last Dog Up The Hill said...

Nice one Mr Miller.

roshea said...

"Turbine has positive effect on training heart rate" ;-)

Peter Carlin said...

Good post Shane. I find the turbine uncomfortable and distracting as it doesn't stay in place. The only time I struggle for oxygen is on a climb when my nose is blocked.