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  1. #1
    Crazy as a **** house rat YoBigFatMomma's Avatar
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    Is the valsalva dangerous?

    Today I squatted 20 pounds more than last week, and 50 pounds more than 4 weeks ago thanks to wearing a belt. I had a strong cup of coffee before training, and used a hard valsalva (holding your breath and squeezing). After the set I had a bit of chest pain, right where my heart is. I've had intercostal pain before and this doesn't feel like it. Its right exactly where my heart is. Anyway, I'm just worried that the coffee, rapid increase in weight, the belt creating even more pressure, and the hard valsalva caused by blood pressure to spike high enough to cause damage to my heart. Could this be the case? Have you heard of people damaging their hearts with the valsalva? I'm also curious as to whether the really strong lifters use the valsalva or do they exhale slightly on the concentric. Thanks!
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  2. #2
    my name isn't diana Diana Meeque's Avatar
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    What you described does sound dangerous. I've seen people pass out from the valsalva maneuver and have passed out myself from it, but haven't ever had any pain near my heart because of it. Maybe it's just because of the caffeine, but just to be safe you should probably hit up your doctor to see if you have any heart problems or anything.
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  3. #3
    Crazy as a **** house rat YoBigFatMomma's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Diana Meeque View Post
    What you described does sound dangerous. I've seen people pass out from the valsalva maneuver and have passed out myself from it, but haven't ever had any pain near my heart because of it. Maybe it's just because of the caffeine, but just to be safe you should probably hit up your doctor to see if you have any heart problems or anything.
    That is the plan, although this is canada so I probably won't get an appointment for six months lol.
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  4. #4
    Registered User DCSpartan's Avatar
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    sounds like mild heartburn, whihc the coffee and tight belt probably make worse and more uncomfortable. Eat more vegatables!
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  5. #5
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    Is is possible that it could cause it, but it is not usually considered very dangerous. I honestly do not know how to lift without doing the valsalva. If i tried to do "proper breathing intervals" on heavy squats, I'd probably pull something in my back.
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  6. #6
    Squat onslaught hammerfelt's Avatar
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    I get those sometimes with heavy dead lifts. It could be your abdominal muscles attached to your rib cage causing the discomfort.
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  7. #7
    Registered User WorldDomnit's Avatar
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    Whenever I bench or squat my coach tells me to hold my breath. Squating any weight 8 times without breathing is hard. He told me that the pressure build up will help me when I'm squating in a suit.
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  8. #8
    Registered User supmannn's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by WorldDomnit View Post
    Whenever I bench or squat my coach tells me to hold my breath. Squating any weight 8 times without breathing is hard. He told me that the pressure build up will help me when I'm squating in a suit.
    Uh...
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  9. #9
    Banned Heavy_Beats's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by WorldDomnit View Post
    Whenever I bench or squat my coach tells me to hold my breath. Squating any weight 8 times without breathing is hard. He told me that the pressure build up will help me when I'm squating in a suit.
    I think I'd turn blue if I tried to hold my breath for 8 reps...
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  10. #10
    lifts goosefrabbas's Avatar
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    Is this the same coach who said your bench shirt should take a few seconds to get on?
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  11. #11
    Aspiring Forklift coachdeez's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by WorldDomnit View Post
    Whenever I bench or squat my coach tells me to hold my breath. Squating any weight 8 times without breathing is hard. He told me that the pressure build up will help me when I'm squating in a suit.
    Originally Posted by goosefrabbas View Post
    Is this the same coach who said your bench shirt should take a few seconds to get on?
    If it is the same coach, don't ever go back to him.
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  12. #12
    Registered User WorldDomnit's Avatar
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    Haha no this isn't the same coach. This guy is a tank.

    And tbh, what he has me do does help.

    And squatting 135 8 times takes about 20 seconds. If you can't hold your breath for 20 seconds thats embarrassing.
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  13. #13
    RMT jbealsrmt's Avatar
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    The Skinny on Valsalva
    There has been some research on this topic with regards to performance athletics. I have read a couple of studies indicating that holding your breath while performing at maximal loads actually provides a small performance increase (~3-30% but I would have to look it up again to be sure). However, holding your breath while under resistance does cause a significant but temporary elevation in blood pressure which could lead to a cerebrovascular accident, retinopathy, and a number of other potential complications.

    Benefit vs Risk
    Hold your breath to take advantage of a potential increase in performance OR breathe out to reduce your risk of a cerebrovascular accident et al. Health-care professionals will always lean towards the latter because their primary concern is always the health and safety of the individual. Coaches and trainers will often lean towards the former because their primary concern tends to be the athlete's performance.

    Consult your primary health-care provider for more information.

    Regarding the "Big" Guys and Holding Their Breath
    Some of the guys I train with suggest the old "leaky tire" thing. They breathe in and hold it for most of the eccentric component but then release it slowly like a leaky tire on the concentric. I guess they feel it's a happy medium between breathing fully and holding their breath.
    Originally Posted by hammerfelt View Post
    I get those sometimes with heavy dead lifts. It could be your abdominal muscles attached to your rib cage causing the discomfort.
    I have never heard of Valsalva causing heart-pain, however, I could be wrong. I would suggest getting checked out by your doctor. If that comes back negative, the pain may be from your diaphragm or your abs as hammerfelt suggested. See if some soft-tissue work done on your diaphragm and abs helps.
    Last edited by jbealsrmt; 08-16-2011 at 05:28 AM.
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