By Jack Franks
It’s used by the current World’s Strongest Man and a former four-time Fittest Man on Earth.
Backed by extensive research and scientifically proven findings published by an accredited board of doctors and scientists, it’s a potential game-changer in the world of athletic performance.
With the potential to increase endurance strength and elevate recovery, it’s fast becoming an essential training tool for the elite. If you have yet to hear of AIRWAAV and its range of revolutionary mouthpieces, it’s time to get your teeth into the following significant athletic innovation.
First arriving on the scene in November 2020, the Louisville, Kentucky-based company went to market with the AIRWAAV Endurance in 2021, offering a creation backed by the brilliant mind of Dena Garner, Ph.D. researcher behind this groundbreaking device.
According to Garner, as you bite down on the AIRWAAV, it works its magic by directing your tongue down and forward, harnessing the power of the tongue muscle to enhance your physical performance.
“The research has shown that contracting your tongue, shifting your mandible forward and biting down on the mouthpiece results in the opening of airways, decreased cortisol, respiratory rate, and lactate levels,” she adds.
Strongmen, CrossFitters, cyclists, runners, triathletes and baseball players benefit from the mouthpiece, which is unsurprising given that a study suggested improved anaerobic and aerobic exercise performance.
Mitchell Hooper, who claimed the title of the World’s Strongest Man in April 2023, describes the mouthpiece as his “little secret weapon,” stating with confidence that his overhead press, deadlift and Atlas Stones numbers shot up significantly when lifting with the AIRWAAV Performance Mouthpiece.
Hooper used the mouthpiece across the entire competition in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, sealing a first Strongman title and making him a household name in the bodybuilding circuit.
The most significant impact of the mouthpiece has been seen within CrossFit, with the legendary Rich Froning, the current fifth fittest male Dallin Pepper, and top ten female athletes Emma Cary and Danielle Brandon as some of the notable ambassadors.
Pepper believes AIRWAAV has allowed him to “breathe easier, lift heavier, and recover faster,” a few of the fundamental keys to success in the sport. At the same time, it helps Brandon to focus on her breathing and provides protection for heavier lifts.
You can choose between three AIRWAAV products: Endurance, HIIT and Recovery, and unique Mayhem and Strength editions.
The names themselves hint at their intended use. The Endurance model is specifically designed for endurance sports and monostructural work, requiring more prolonged physical output periods. In contrast, the HIIT model is tailored for high-intensity interval training, where explosive bursts of energy are needed, allowing you to achieve new heights of power and performance.
Fresh on the scene is the AIRWAAV Recovery Mouthpiece, designed to enhance sleep quality and assist in a faster recovery, with its Reflex Technology – founded by Dr. Michael Alvarez – allowing the tongue to sit in the optimal position when you get your zzz’s.
The benefits of using the AIRWAAV
Don’t believe us, the World’s Strongest Man or a host of elite performing individuals? Well, science can convince you.
The AIRWAAV mouthpiece offers a range of research-based and user-backed benefits that can enhance your athletic performance.
Here are some of the benefits:
Reduced respiratory rate
Research shows that wearing the Airwaav mouthpiece helps keep your airway open, improving athletic performance.
Studies demonstrate a significant increase in airway width among mouthpiece users compared to non-users.
With an average airway width of 28.27 millimeters, Airwaav users enjoy a 2.34-millimeter advantage.
Improved breathing during workouts
“Most people don’t think about breathing when they exercise,” says Garner. Well, the mouthpiece can help.
AIRWAAV athlete Cole Greashaber – who placed 33rd overall and collected his first event win at the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games – says the mouthpiece “makes breathing easier” and has helped him reduce his Fran Lung (lung burning) while working out.
“In years prior, it didn’t seem to matter what kind of WOD I did; I would always end up with Fran’s lung. While using the AIRWAAV, I do not experience Fran Lung nearly as often, and if I do, the side effects are significantly better,” he said.
Enhanced mental focus
In addition to physical benefits, some users credit the Airwaav mouthpiece with increased mental focus.
CrossFit athletes like Alexander Fallek find that when performing monostructural work (traditional cardio exercises), the mouthpiece allows them to focus on speed and performance rather than being distracted by physical discomfort.
Brandon, who placed 9th at this year’s CrossFit Games, said using the mouthpiece during more extended exercise such as running, rowing, or skiing helps as a “personal reminder to bring me back to a normal state of breathing.”
While its primary purpose is performance enhancement, some users have noticed that the AIRWAAV mouthpiece provides secondary benefits, such as protecting teeth during weightlifting. Athletes like Joe Massey and James Sprague appreciate this added protection.
Sprague says he loves “having something to clench down on during heavy lifts so I keep my jaw in line and don’t grind my teeth! The AIRWAAV is not intrusive and allows me to breathe well and fit better.“
Support for healthy cortisol levels
By supporting proper mandibular placement and breathing, the AIRWAAV mouthpiece can help regulate cortisol levels during workouts, which is especially beneficial for individuals with high cortisol levels due to non-exercise-related stressors.
Symptoms such as brain fog, weight gain, and poor sleep quality can be mitigated by modulating cortisol levels.
“The Airwaav supports proper mandibular placement and breathing, which offers subsequent improvement in cortisol levels, supporting performance and recovery in any sport,” says Garner.
In support of this idea, one 2017 study published in Cogent Medicine found that wearing a mouthpiece during exercise can blunt overall cortisol production.
Wearing the mouthpiece during exercise has been shown to decrease overall cortisol levels. As a result, this may contribute to faster recovery and improved performance in subsequent training sessions, according to the earlier research published in Cogent Medicine.
Which mouthpiece is right for you?
Setting the Recovery Mouthpiece to one side for the moment is essential to choosing the right product, depending on your sporting endeavors.
Each offers outstanding performance benefits with its unique styles and fitments. Delve into the distinct features and applications to determine the ideal choice for your needs. Compare and discover the mouthpiece that perfectly aligns with your preferences.
- Wider bite channel that is designed for a looser fit around teeth
- Easier to pop in and out in-between sets
- The mid-rise intake bar fits behind the lower teeth.
- High-intensity interval training
- A narrow bite channel is designed to fit snugly around teeth
- The rise intake bar fits deeper on the inside of the lower teeth.
- T-bars ensure a secure lockdown fit, ideal for going long distances.
- Monostructural conditioning
- Distance running and cycling
AIRWAAV and mouthguards: What’s the difference?
While the Airwaav may be placed in your mouth, it is essential to note that it is not a traditional mouthguard. Sporting mouthguards typically act as protective covers for your teeth, shielding them from external impacts and internal teeth clenching during activities like weightlifting.
Typical sports mouthguards feature a thick material that disperses impact forces and is positioned on the upper teeth, providing cushioning for your teeth. These mouthguards prioritize dental protection.
In contrast, the Airwaav performance mouthpiece is specifically designed to enhance athletic performance rather than solely focusing on dental protection. It is positioned in the lower section of your mouth, covering your lower teeth. The Airwaav Endurance and Airwaav HIIT mouthpieces are crafted from Vistamaxx™, a hydrophobic-fitting material thinner than traditional athletic guards.