Turbine – First look, quick test

I don’t breathe very well. Not through my nose, anyway. I’ve not had it looked into by a professional, but I strongly suspect that it’s mainly structural. The evidence I have for this is that if I simply pull one or both of my nasal sidewalls (I’m not sure what else to call them?) so as to expand the space between the skin and the cartilage within, I can breathe clearly. It’s dramatically different. I actually notice it the most while lying in bed before falling asleep, when there is little else to do other than breathe. When I’m active, like cycling at a hard pace, I’m breathing through my mouth anyway so it’s not something I notice. When the effort is a more moderate pace but still requiring additional oxygen, I’m still a mouth-breather. I suppose I wouldn’t be if I could breathe better through my nose. What I’m not sure of is, does it matter?

Enter the Turbine. Basically, it is a little tool you insert into your nose that pushes your nostrils out to make more space for airflow. It’s all medical-grade, so no problems with allergies, etc, and it’s soft enough to be comfortable (enough) in use. Just don’t get hit in the face with one in (no contact sports). The basic principle:

“You have to overcome resistance in your airways to drag the air into your lungs and then expire the exchanged gas with another muscular push. This is where the Turbine makes its mark.”

Makes sense. I mean, I certainly do. If I breathe in sharply I can feel the sides of my nose getting sucked in, so in reality, the harder I need to breathe, the less I am able. At least, through my nose.

I recently had a quick chat with Matt from Turbine and was given one to try out. The first thing you’ll buy is a sample box containing the various sizes (I’m told there is an XL being released some time around the new year) so you can find out which one works best for you. The size difference is in the length, determining how far in it will go, but what I have found is that the width is also narrower on the medium size. When getting replacement Turbines, you’ll just get the size you need. They are reusable up to a point – Turbine recommends changing after three uses. Im not sure why they picked three uses, but I suppose you could just see how it goes.

It was recommended that I would need the large size. The large didn’t want to stay in. It felt like it needed to be pushed in further to really get lodged in there, but there was nowhere to go. Every time I moved my nose or even another part of my face (squinting, smiling, etc.), the large Turbine squirmed its way out. It seems to me that it comes down to the construction of your nasal passages rather than the size of your nose overall.


I had more or less written the Turbine off for me, thinking that it just didn’t work with the way my nose was shaped. I’ve just popped in the medium, out of curiosity, and it seems to fit better. It’s staying in much better, in any case. I’m going to give it a go tonight and see if I feel a little more refreshed after a nights sleep with 38% more oxygen…

…Ok, so the medium stayed in place all night and I certainly noticed easier breathing. Did I awake feeling refreshed, ready to take on the world? No, but I wasn’t any worse off either. So far it’s a stalemate. Something else that struck me was that now and then I forgot I had it in. You would think it would be pretty annoying shoving something up your nose, but it’s not all that bad. Before falling asleep, I was worried that I would wake up with a ridiculously dry and irritated nose. With all that oxygen rushing in and out, it was already starting to get a little irritated. Fortunately, this wasn’t the case this morning.

I did go for a ride this morning. I didn’t use the Turbine. I chickened out because my main concern is that with the Turbine inserted, my habitually, excercise-induced runny nose would not be able to be addressed with a quick wipe or a shot from the old snot rocket. In either case, I’m a bit grossed out at the thought of combining a Turbine and a snotty nose. Maybe it’s the cold I’ve had over the last few days which had my nose on a constant drip, but I’ll give it a go in tomorrows crit and see how it goes then.

So for now, my verdict is that if you really want to get more oxygen with each breath, for any reason, the Turbine is one way to do that. Yes, you can breathe easier through your nose – there is no denying that. Performance gains? The jury is out on this one – I’ll update you know what it does for me after tomorrow.

I’ve not got a big enough brain to walk you through the science behind breathing and it’s relation to higher performance, so in the meantime, there is a pretty interesting independent review of the product, and the science, from the good chaps at Cycling Tips. The comments aren’t bad either…