A recent study reconfirms that nasal strips – technically called external nasal dilators – don’t improve performance.

Nasal strips – the most popular brand being Breath Right – became quite popular several years ago as athletes of all kinds sported them during competition in an attempt to improve performance.  However, only one study – performed in 1997 and that featured the Breath Right strips – has shown that nasal strips provide any performance benefit.

The most recent study to show that these nasal dilators have no effect on performance was conducted by the Department of Exercise Science of Willamette University in Oregon, and the results were published in the January 2008 edition of the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research

The researchers from Willamette concluded that nasal strips did not improve any markers of physical performance in either sedentary or trained college-age women in response to exercise. The conclusions of the Willamette study are consistent with those of many other studies that have found no differences in aerobic measurements between groups that used the nasal strips and the groups that used a placebo, no effect on anaerobic power or rate of perceived exertion (RPE) or on cardio respiratory markers during recovery from intense exercise while using the nasal strips. 

The studies that have been done on nasal dilators show that while these strips increase nasal passages and decrease nasal airway resistance, these changes do not result in improved physical fitness, and that the vast preponderance of evidence shows these items are not effective in improving performance.

However, in a case of what seems to be “monkey-see, monkey-do,” these nasal strips are still very popular and visible despite a veritable paucity of evidence that speaks to their effectiveness. 

My advice is – with research on your side – don’t bother with these strips, save about $13 and as a result you won’t look so silly.


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