Breathing battles and sensory embodiment in sports and physical cultures

Allen-Collinson, Jacquelyn and Owton, Helen (2021). Breathing battles and sensory embodiment in sports and physical cultures. In: Research Group at Université du Littoral Côte d'Opale, Dec 2021, Université du Littoral Côte d'Opale.


The findings portrayed below derive from two qualitative research projects: Study 1 was a collaborative autoethnographic study, undertaken with Dr John Hockey, a co-runner, and autophenomenographic project involving two sub-studies of distance running. Study 2 was an interview-based study undertaken in collaboration with a co-researcher, Dr Helen Owton, focusing upon asthma experiences in sport. Regarding Study 1, autoethnography is nowadays a well-recognised approach in sports studies but for those unfamiliar with autophenomenography, this is an approach bearing some similarities with autoethnography, but drawing on phenomenological perspectives. These latter are employed to investigate a researcher’s own lived experience of a phenomenon in contrast to examining a researcher’s experiences qua member of a social group, as would be the case in autoethnography (see Allen-Collinson, 2011). Whilst Study 1 did not focus specifically upon asthma in distance running, as I suffer from mild asthma (EIB), experiences of asthma and breathing difficulties nevertheless featured strongly in the data.

Study 2 focused upon the experiences of 14 non-élite sports participants, all of whom had been diagnosed with asthma, but ranging in degree of severity. For some participants, asthma did not affect sports participation and performance to any great degree, whereas for others, the severity of their condition had at times required hospital treatment. Key sampling criteria spanned: i) receipt of a medical diagnosis of asthma; ii) receiving medical treatment for asthma; iii) being an active sportsperson or recently ‘retired’ sportsperson. Of the 14 participants, 10 were active sportspeople (six women/four men), and four were former sportspeople diagnosed with late onset asthma (two women/two men). From both projects, we identified that auditory work formed a key structure of participants’ asthma experiences within sporting contexts.

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