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Why are these muscles relevant? During normal breathing, the vocal folds are parted (abduct) during inhalation in order to widen the laryngeal glottic opening, permitting unobstructed airflow through the larynx. This occurs via reflex activation of the posterior cricoarytenoid (PCA) muscle—that is, it’s not something that occurs consciously; it happens automatically as part of a normal inhalation. Without this activity, the vocal folds would collapse across that laryngeal opening, causing an increase in resistance to upper airway flow and leading to increased breathing effort and breathlessness.

Such conditions arise in sports such as swimming, and they render the inspiratory muscles, in particular, vulnerable to fatigue. Assessment of Breathing Muscle Function A comprehensive description of assessment is beyond the scope of this book; however, this section will help you develop a working knowledge of the most widely used testing methods. Assessing the strength of limb muscles is relatively straightforward and involves measuring the force that can be exerted using a device that measures force.

In contrast, when the work of inhalation was increased by having the person breathe against a resistance, leg blood flow decreased (7 percent). The changes in leg blood flow were mediated by changes in the neural input to the blood vessels in the limbs—the blood vessels narrowed (vasoconstricted) when inspiratory work was increased, and they dilated when inspiratory work was reduced. , 2002). What’s a metaboreflex? When muscles work very hard, metabolic by-products, such as lactic acid, accumulate within them.

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