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stupid question about brain damage

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New Member
Oct 14, 2003
hi all. i know this has been asked a lot before on this forum, and yes i did reread it and look at the info, but it still seems weird to me that holding your breath until you feel like your going to pass out doesnt do any brain damage. i mostly spear and i am wishing to extend my depth and bottom time, thus i look towards the "sport" side of competitive freediving for techniques (i am learning a lot from this board), but the brain damage thing does bother me. sometime when i push myself on bottom time, ascending, my fingers will curl inward like my muscles are spasming or something. yes, i read about the "your brain doesnt get damage for a long time after you stop breathing", yet i still get headaches when i do static apnea. ok, thanks for any responses, and sorry for the frank and almost curt tone of this post, but im short on time.
just an observation

To me it seems that your body knows it's chemistry best. I have no credentials; this is all speculation.... Intuitively (yikes), I think that blacking out is a natural response of the body to conserve 02, in an 02-deprived environment...... Presumably, to stop damage to the brain (and other vitals). If you're dry, you just start breathing again. If you're submerged [I've read that] this reflex can be overruled by a second "dont breath" reflex that seals your throat when it touches water.

[Given I'm not full of crap on the previously paragraph] This is a double-edged sword for freedivers. On one hand, your body can drown you by blacking you out to 'save' it's 02. And on the other hand, it gives us a cut-off point, so we don't have the potential to unwittingly kill our brains. Personally, I'd rather have the line be drawn in the sand, rather than wondering how many cells I killed on each dive. I already have to worry about that after each beer :p.

...just my grain of salt.

There has been a lot of research done on animals exposed to very hypoxic conditions, and the results can be interesting. There are some temporary and some permanent changes that can be observed. The permanent change that interests me the most is that microcapillaries begin to grow to help transfer the O2 more efficiently. I believe that this happens to human freedivers as well, which would explain why a Max static, once reached, can be achieved very easily again (or damn close) in the future, even if the diver does not train for a long time. It took me a long time (2 years) to hold my breath longer than 4 minutes. Eventually I achieved 5 minutes (this when the WR was 5:40 approx) and thought that was the cat's ass! After extreme training for competitions I reached a PB of 6:20. After that, I didn't train static or even dive much for approximately 6 months. One day I tried to do a max attempt. My very first hold was over 4 minutes, and my max was 6:05.
I think that there are permanent benefits to training to your limits.
Erik Y.
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