Breathing Exercises For Runners

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Breathing Exercises For Runners

Just before you crest a hill or reach the end of a speed interval, your lungs go into overdrive. Your breath becomes shallow and rapid. You think if only you could pull in more air, you could surge up that hill or maintain your pace. But the more your chest heaves, the more you struggle. You may even end up exhausted, bent over, gasping for air. “Runners think about training their heart and legs, but they rarely think about training their lungs,” says Mindy Solkin, owner and head coach of The Running Center in New York City. “A strong respiratory system can improve your running. It’s a simple equation: Better breathing equals more oxygen for your muscles, and that equals more endurance.” Just as we strength-train our hamstrings and calves to improve our ability to power over hills, we can tone the muscles used for breathing. “Exercise improves the conditioning of the diaphragm, the muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen, and the intercostal muscles, which lie between the ribs and enable you to inhale and exhale,” says Everett Murphy, M.D., a runner and pulmonologist at Olathe Medical Center in Olathe, Kansas. “When you take a breath, 80 percent of the work is done by the diaphragm. If you strengthen your diaphragm, you may improve your endurance and be less likely to become fatigued.” This was backed up by researchers from the Centre for Sports Medicine and Human Performance at Brunel University in England, who recently measured fatigue levels of marathoners’ respiratory muscles and leg muscles. They found a direct link — runners whose breathing was the most strained showed the most leg weakness — and concluded in their study that the harder the respiratory muscles had to work, the more the legs would struggle in a race. The key to preventing lung- and leg-fatigue is breathing more fully. “When you take deeper breaths, you use more air sacs in your lungs, which allows you to take in more oxygen to feed your muscles,” says David Ross, M.D., a pulmonologist at UCLA Medical Center. “When I’m running, I concentrate on taking slow and deep breaths to strengthen my diaphragm.” Most runners, says Solkin, are “chest breathers” not “belly breathers.” To help her clients see the difference, she has them run a mile at a pace that gets them huffing a bit. Then she has them stop and place one hand on their abdomen and one hand on their chest and watch. The lower hand should move with each breath, while the upper hand should remain relatively still (usually the opposite occurs). “Every time you breathe in, your belly should fill up like a balloon,” says Solkin. “And every time you breathe out, that balloon should deflate. When you chest breathe, your shoulders get tense and move up and down. That’s wasted energy — energy you should conserve for running.” Chest breathing can be a hard habit to break-especially while you’re preoccupied with keeping pace or calculating splits. One way to make the switch easier is to work on belly breathing when you’re not running, and the skill will eventually carry over to your running. To make this happen, some elite runners turn to Pilates, a program originally developed as a rehabilitation program for World War I soldiers. Pilates aims to increase flexibility, strengthen the core, and improve breathing. “I try to do Pilates twice a week,” says 2004 Olympic marathoner Colleen de Reuck. “It stretches my intercostal muscles and lengthens my spine, which helps my breathing and my running.” 1 2 1of2 NEXT Share this article Discuss This Article
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Breathing Exercises For Runners

Search Add New Question How do I breathe when running? Michele Dolan Personal Trainer Michele Dolan There are a few different ideas on what is the best way to breathe while running. What ends up working best for you is your own best method. Having said that, try inhaling for two steps and exhaling for two or three steps, and repeat that pattern. If you use the three-step exhale, you will end up alternating the foot you land on with each breath, which some believe is best. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 0 Helpful 2 Is it good to drink water while running? wikiHow Contributor Yes, you can take short breaks in between your run. Take small sips, nor great big chugs or you will get side pains. It is good to drink water while running because it can hydrate you so you will not pass out form a heat stroke. I hope this helped. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 3 Helpful 19 How do I prevent erratic breathing when running? wikiHow Contributor Focus on your steps. Try inhaling during four steps, and exhaling on the next four, and continue the pattern. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 0 Helpful 3 Should I inhale with my mouth or nose? wikiHow Contributor Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 11 Helpful 17 How can I improve my running for softball when I have not been in shape for a while? wikiHow Contributor Practice breathing exercises without running first. Then, try to practice different breathing patterns and techniques used in your exercises. Check out some of the tips in this article about sprinting on wikiHow to improve your overall running for softball. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 6 Helpful 11 How do I practice my breathing while running a mile? wikiHow Contributor Have a constant pace. For example, when you step with your left foot, inhale every other or third time. Then, when you step with your right foot, exhale every other or third time. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 2 Helpful 5

Breathing Exercises For Runners

Try out this technique by lying down on the floor, placing a hand on your belly and breathing deeply. If you feel your hand rise and fall slightly with your breathing, you are belly breathing. If your chest moves up and down rather than your belly, you are not breathing deep enough. Focus on your hand and try making it rise and fall. To make sure you continue breathing deeply during your run, periodically take a very deep breath and forcefully exhale, pushing all the air out of your lungs. With the exhalation, drop your shoulders, shake out your arms, and relax them. Then, take a deep breath and continue your run.
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Breathing Exercises For Runners

I used to run half-marathon distances breathing with my nose only. I think it was partly due to temperatures below 0 Celsius for half a year where I lived then, that I switched to breathing through my nose, and also because when breathing through my mouth, my lungs ached. But soon after switching to nosal breathing I realised that it is economy of using the fuel/air that enables you to run effectively, fast, without stopping over long distances. It was akin to meditation. I tried a few times to swap back to mouth breathing, each time ending up exhausted after half a mile and with burning pain in lungs. I remember utilising a method I called ‘saving breath’, when I was gradually reducing number of breaths against number of steps, cutting down from 3 steps a breath, to finally 5 steps on a single inhale. This way I could easily effortlesdly run 10-mile distances every day without stopping, Yes, now, almost 20 years later it reminds me of my driving style, very economic with very light foot on accelerator pedal, saving loads of fuel.

Breathing Exercises For Runners

Belly Breathing Most individuals are considered to be chest breathers, meaning they only breathe with their chest muscles. However, chest breathing greatly impedes your body’s consumption of oxygen, especially while running. Belly breathing is a fundamental exercise to strengthen the lungs and improve running. Belly breathing refers to breathing that uses the diaphragm, allowing maximum intake of oxygen into the body for use in the heart and lungs. The easiest way to master this technique is to start lying on the ground. While lying on your back, breathe deeply so your belly rises with your chest as you inhale, and lowers while you exhale. Continue to practice this while lying down until you feel confident to move upright. At this time, further master the exercise by holding in breaths for several counts — as many as you can without exceeding seven — prior to exhaling. Holding the breaths will help strengthen the diaphragm.
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Breathing Exercises For Runners

In Hinduism, yoga teaches pranayama—breath work. Prana means breath as a life-giving force: The work of breathing draws life-giving force into the body. And that work is accomplished through diaphragmatic breathing, or belly breathing, which means that as you inhale, you contract the diaphragm fully to allow maximum volume in the thoracic (chest) cavity for maximum expansion of the lungs and maximum intake of air. Rhythmic breathing does the same thing, drawing the breath—the life force—into the body through controlled, focused diaphragmatic breathing. Through rhythmic running we breathe fully and, as the Taoist would say, realize our vitality.

Breathing Exercises For Runners

Breathing problems and side stitches are a common complaint among many runners, especially new runners. If you are having problems breathing, it’s always wise to consult with your health care professional first to rule out any medical issues. Asthma or exercise-induced asthma and allergies are very common, so when you feel you can’t catch your breath, if you cannot inhale or exhale productively, if you experience any wheezing, or other symptoms that are uncomfortable or concern you, please check with your doctor.

Breathing Exercises For Runners