I reviewed the Turbine, an Australian-invented gadget that goes up your nose and claims to increase airflow and improve performance, for Techly. Click through to read the full catastrophe. WARNING: gratuitous snot references abound.
The Turbine makes pretty big claims about improved airflow, and celebrity endorsement from the likes of Tour de France champion Chris Froome, but Techly isn’t convinced that the fairly messy trade-offs are worth the marginal gains.
Update: The crew at Rhinomed have contacted me with a research paper showing that during high intensity exercise, nasal breathing accounts for ~27% of all air intake. If we take Rhinomed’s claim that the Turbine can increase nasal airflow by ‘up to’ 38% at face value (and I will) then we’re looking at an increase in your overall airflow of ‘up to’ 10%.
That’s all well and good, but I’m still skeptical that it would result in much of a performance increase given that we still haven’t accounted for cardiac output, haematocrit, and peripheral factors (getting oxygen from the circulatory system into the muscle cells) further down the chain. There’s a reasonably clear summary here, but to summarise further, “some researchers have concluded that 70-85% of the limitation in VO2max can be attributed to maximal cardiac output“.
In other words, even if you can get a 10% boost in overall airflow, your aerobic capacity is probably being held back by your heart’s ability to pump enough blood, and your blood’s ability to absorb and transport oxygen. Getting 10% more air into your lungs is meaningless if your red blood cells are already saturated with oxygen and your heart can’t pump blood any faster.
And that’s before we get into efficiency and lactate threshold.