As adults, we breathe somewhere in the region of 12 to 20 times per minute. It’s a task that we tend to fulfil unconsciously, and most of us give this life-dependant process little thought, if ever. And yet breathing is vital in our every day life, and our athletic accomplishments too. Phil Lembkey, however, has devoted much of his life to the power of breathing, and is a co-founder of ELVT breath control patches, a tool designed to promote breathing through the nose.
M&F sat down with the athlete and entrepreneur to find out how he came to develop the product, and why everyone should consider getting their beathing “on the nose.”
You don’t need a health or fitness guru to tell you that breathing is non-negotiable if you want to make it to the end of this feature, but for those who want to maximize their performance instead of just dialing it in, there’s a lot more to breathing than just inhaling and exhaling. “If you’re not breathing and utilizing oxygen correctly, it doesn’t matter how hard you train, how well your diet is, or what supplements you take! Your overall health and endurance starts by the way you breathe,” reads the intro at elvtbreath.com. ELVT (pronounced “elevate”) breath control patches are the brainchild of Phil Lembkey, the grandson of a bodybuilder who became a sportsman in his own right through exercising with his dad, and eventually moving toward surfing, wrestling, and jiujitsu.
He also now partners in the ownership on a San Francisco-area MMA gym. “I was always looking for ways to improve my performance and just the sports that I gravitated toward,” says Lembkey. “You’re put in uncomfortable positions in jujitsu and surfing and being held under. So, you’re always looking for ways to not only improve your performance, but how to stay calm under pressure in those uncomfortable positions.”
Breath control was always an aspect of Lembkey’s athletic development, whether it be via meditation or taking cold plunges. Then, he read Oxygen Advantage by Patrick McEwan and says that this was a game-changing moment for him. By tweaking the way that he breathed, Lembkey was able to not only improve his personal records, but was also able to beat sleep apnea. “I tried keeping my mouth shut with athletic tape, and I pretty much cured my own sleep apnea and little anxieties by just optimizing my breathing and being aware, and nasal breathing specifically.”
Along with his ELVT co-founder, Sean Fitzgerald, Lembkey set about helping improving our health and athleticism, one breath at a time.
Courtesy of ELVT
Why Your Breathing Might Be Broken
“Breathing is a subconscious act…” says Lembkey. “But we’ve evolved over time to become chronic mouth breathers in the high stress environments that we live in: pollutants, diet, toxins, (so) there’s a demand for oxygen, and the easiest way to do that is to open your mouth, but that’s not an optimal way. [Mouth breathing] was actually designed for ‘fight or flight’ situations and as a backup. The nose is how you’re supposed to breathe, so the tool that we created was the breath control patch, to help optimize and restrain the respiratory system and subconscious mind toward nasal breathing.”
Still, finding the best breath tool took around one year of research, and a glut of prototypes. “We didn’t want to rush into it,” reflects Lembkey. “We tried athletic tape, you know, we’re putting women’s nipple covers over our mouth… it was hilarious,” laughs the innovator. “Even the cleavage tape, bamboo tape, everything, but one wasn’t strong enough and one would peel off. We really wanted to find something that was like a hybrid model that you can wear while you sleep and wear while you workout. So, a lot of research and development went into, until we finally partnered with a manufacturer and took some things that we liked from the different tapes, and were able to blend it all into one. “A lot of people open their mouth because it’s the quickest way to get air into your lungs,” explains Lembkey. “But it’s like pouring a glass that’s half full, you’re not actually absorbing all that oxygen.”
Build Your se Breathing Technique With These Tips
ELVT breath control patches are hypoallergenic and medical grade. They are tough enough for a workout and yet comfortable enough to sleep with. Wearing tape over your mouth might seem a little strange to some, but as Lembkey points out, ice baths and hot sauna’s were once considered to be novel. Essentially, they are designed to force mouth breathing. Here are some tips: