How to Improve Breathing While Running – Proper Breathing Technique
When running, the rate of absorption and breakdown of food increases in your body so as to give you enough energy for the activity. How you breathe while running is important because the oxygen that you take in is used in your body’s metabolism. You need to take in more oxygen and expel carbon dioxide rapidly.
The proper technique of breathing while running would improve your performance; it would help you to run faster and longer with relatively less effort. It would also prevent you from getting side aches and side stitches caused by poor breathing.
Pay attention to the following tips to establish a proper breathing technique when running.
Breathe in and out through your mouth
Breathing through your nose is great because your nose has air cleaning and warming mechanism. However, it is not efficient when it comes to running. Your nostrils are obviously smaller than the opening of your mouth. You should breathe primarily through your mouth because it feeds enough oxygen into your body. It is even better to breathe through both your mouth and your nose. Do not think too hard about it, just let your mouth hang open as you run.
Breathe with your belly
Air doesn’t actually get in your belly as you breathe. The expansion and contraction of your belly just signify the amount of air you are taking in and pushing out. The more air you take in the further down your lungs push the diaphragm and the more air you exhale the further up your diaphragm retreats.
Most people make the mistake of breathing with the chest while running. The muscles around the chest cavity are rigid and hence do not allow for expansion of the lungs outwards. This is a shallow form of breathing. You should breathe with your belly. It allows you to take up and store more oxygen for your run. The way to do this is to watch your stomach expand and contract as your chest remains still.
You can practice this technique by:
- Lying down on your back on any comfortable surface
- Keep your chest and shoulders still
- Focus on raising your belly as you inhale and lowering it as you exhale
- You may want to place a light object on your stomach so that you could easily see it rise and fall
In time, you will learn to rely less on your chest muscles and more on your diaphragm
Take longer breathes
Fatigue always sets in quicker when you take shorter breaths. Longer breathes take in more air and expel out almost every bit of it. More oxygen would, therefore, be available for your muscles to function for longer without getting exhausted.
You should take longer breaths when running and try to make their duration uniform throughout your run. It is important to note that longer breaths do not mean very slow ones it just means extended and deeper breathing. For effective longer breaths try to breath in for two to three steps that you take and breathe out for the same number.
Take calculated steps to match your breathing
When exhaling your diaphragm and chest muscles normally relax. This is the point when you could easily get hurt when your body twists or turns violently. Taking calculated steps is important in your breathing during your runs because as your foot lands on the ground your entire body absorbs the shock of the impact. Landing on the same foot all the time during your exhales burdens one side of your body, weakening it and making it vulnerable to injury. You are more likely to experience frequent side-aches above your left or right hip as a result.
You should ensure that you alternate your left and right steps for every exhale that you take. This would distribute the shock of impact equally to the left and right sides of your body throughout your run. It is of course hard to keep track of what each foot is doing and when the next exhale would find it.
Therefore you need to create a coordinated pattern of foot strikes and breathing that your body would soon get accustomed to without applying too much thought. You could do this by ensuring that your first exhale coincides with your left foot strike and the second exhale coincides with your right foot strike. If you get it right a dozen times at the beginning of your run, you can then stop keeping track; the pattern would automatically fall in place.
To minimize the effect of foot strikes on your body, you will need good running shoes. The best running shoes for sufferers of Plantar Fasciitis would do the job. They have soft spongy foot pads and thick under soles that absorb the shock of impact hence reducing foot pains and side aches. A pair of knee brace should be also considered to minimize injuries.
Establish a breathing pattern
According to Runnersconnect.net, most runners use a 2:2 or a 3:3 pattern of breathing. This means that they inhale for every two or three steps and exhale for the same number. The breathing gets longer with the number of steps you dedicate to every breath. The 2:2 pattern is efficient for shorter runs while the 3:3 pattern is suitable for longer runs that would require more endurance.
For experienced runners, an odd 3:2 breathing pattern is favorable. This means that you take three steps for an inhale and two steps for the exhale. This pattern ensures that most of your foot strikes land on your inhales when your core and diaphragm are on guard and your body is stable.
To practice this breathing pattern:
- Lie down with your knees bent in a wedge and your feet flat on the ground
- Place your hands on top of your belly and start belly breathing
- Inhale to the count of three then exhales to the count of two. Do this severally
- Once you are accustomed to the 3:2 pattern add foot taps to mimic foot strikes during runs
Breathing is an essential part of running that is often overlooked. It is important that you apply the proper breathing technique to keep away exhaustion and minimize injury and strain to muscles.
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