Dr Dickinson, head of the respiratory clinic at the University of Kent and lecturer in its School of Sports and Exercise Sciences, has tested Olympians and elite athletes from almost every sport, including Premier League footballers, GB cyclists and members of Team Sky. He said:
‘Preparation for this tournament began two years ago. This involved testing and working with the squad to ensure the respiratory function was optimised for each player going to the World Cup.
‘Whilst working with the England team we had discussions with players, coaches and support staff regarding how they can make the most of the assessments and advice we offer. Consequently, I am confident that they are fully prepared for their remaining games. ‘
Dr Dickinson also explained that with any elite athlete ‘it is important to ensure their respiratory systems are working efficiently to deliver oxygen to the body and remove carbon dioxide. In a recent study we detected 29% of elite football players had a form of asthma called exercise induced bronchoconstriction (EIB).
‘Through this we were able to provide evidence that once players were detected and treated appropriately for EIB (via standard asthma inhaler therapy) their airway health improved and their aerobic fitness improved to that of non-asthmatic elite football players.
‘We also work with football players who do not have asthma or other cardio-pulmonary disease but still report breathing problems that limit high intensity exercise. Based on 15 years of working with athletes with these issues we are able to provide individualised breathing training programmes that help athletes overcome dysfunctional breathing patterns and conditions such as exercise induced laryngeal obstruction (closure of throat during exercise).’
Dr John Dickinson is head of the respiratory clinic at the University of Kent and lecturer in the School of Sports and Exercise Sciences. He carries out breathing assessments at Medway Park Sports Centre. He has tested Olympians and elite athletes from almost every sport, including England Football Team.