Hexoskin and the athlete who stopped breathing

July 03, 2013

Canadian national athlete discovers surprising fact and is able to boost performance, thanks to Hexoskin.

The Canadian athlete, a member of the national alpine snowboard team, was taking part in the Canadian championships. At a demonstration the week prior, his coaches had been impressed with Hexoskin’s ability to provide easy access to accurate and repeatable data, and had invited the Hexoskin team to measure him live.

He and his coach were curious about what Hexoskin would show them. What could they possibly learn that would be of any use to them? After all, the athlete was on top of his form. What he needed to improve was known. But they were curious anyway.

Barely aware he was wearing Hexoskin, and synced with an iPad, the snowboarder took part in the two-day competition as normal, streaming his metrics to the observers. The live data looked good, showing the high performance you could expect from an elite sportsman.

But to everyone’s surprise, on closer analysis, the data clearly showed that the athlete systematically stopped breathing halfway through the course. Between gates 8 and 15, when his activity was at its most intense, his breathing rate dropped. Nobody knew. Not even the athlete realized.

Hexoskin’s unique breathing volume measurement showed that it wasn’t just that he was breathing more slowly; he wasn’t breathing at all. And this is a problem, because if you don’t breathe, your muscles don’t get oxygen; and if they don’t get oxygen, they don’t work fully. And that doesn’t help you win medals.

So the Hexoskin team drew the attention of the snowboarder and his coaches to the phenomenon. Knowing he stopped breathing enabled him to then be mindful and make a conscious effort to correct it, as his increased breathing rate on the last run clearly shows. With just that extra concentration at the right time, he was able to modify his performance, and his final result met his expectations.

Now the athlete knows this can happen and what the tell-tale signs are so, in the future, he and his coaches will be able to watch out for it. Being in better control of his body this way will improve the athlete’s performance over time, which can only improve his chances of winning more and greater accolades.