OptiO2 Labs is a local company based out of Nashville, that has recently unveiled the world’s first line of performance enhancing mouthpieces designed to promote optimal breathing technique.
Among many others, owners Jake Shuler and Austin Mallette believe breathing through the nose can be critical to basic health. Along with reducing stress, increasing focus and regulating blood pressure and body temperature, using the nose to breathe has been shown to delay muscle fatigue, slow the effects of dehydration and reduce lactic acid build up in the muscles. These benefits only scratch the surface of what studies have continued to uncover.
Jake and Austin both grew up playing sports and have a passion for training at a high level as well as understanding how the human body can increase its potential. While he was in school, Jake studied Exercise Science and worked in the Tennessee Volunteer football weight room as an Assistant Strength Coach where he learned a number of different training techniques that he still utilizes today.
Even though the human body was designed to use the nostrils as the primary means of breathing and filter the air we breathe, it can be tough to maintain proper technique, especially under physical stress and exertion.
“For athletes, nasal breathing helps develop aerobic capacity and can also keep us in check with our technical or mechanical limitations. We can always get away with going faster or harder with breathing predominantly through our mouths, but breathing through our nose encourages us to focus on efficiency and forces us into a biomechanically optimal position to access our diaphragm and a full breath,” says Brian MacKenzie of Power Speed Endurance.
“After discovering the performance and recovery benefits of nasal breathing, I looked for something that would remove the option of mouth breathing. I couldn’t find anything, so I got together with Austin to brainstorm and the result was the OptiO2 Sport,” Jake explains.
The OptiO2 Sport mouthpiece (shown in the diagram) is designed to help athletes breathe better, train harder and recover faster. The lightweight piece resembles a traditional mouth guard with an added shelf that slides under and elevates the tongue, which fully opens the nasal airway. The device also features an ergonomically shaped front wall that serves to prevent any airflow into or out of the mouth. By eliminating the ability to breathe through the mouth, an athlete’s body can intake the proper amount of oxygen through the nostrils.
The OptiO2 Sport also features a bite pad that encourages an aligned jaw while protecting the teeth. Training with a bite pad and proper jaw alignment helps to open airways and has been shown to enhance posture, increase strength and improve reaction time.
“Athletes have a lot to think about when they are training,” Jake says. “Breathing shouldn’t be one of them.”
By combining the athletic benefits of nasal breathing with the performance enhancement of a mouthguard, Jake and Austin believe they have created the ultimate training accessory for serious athletes.
“I was surprised at how much more I breathed through my nose during a hard HIIT workout compared to when I simply ‘think’ about breathing through my nose,” says Ben Greenfield, a fitness coach, author, and former NSCA Trainer of the Year when utilizing the product.
“What’s great about this product is that we’ve developed it through research and science,” says Austin. “The OptiO2 line is not only designed to help athletes of all skill levels get the most out of every breath, but it’s also revolutionizing the way we breath as human beings, which is pretty groundbreaking and has been a inspiring to be a part of.”