You might be thinking to yourself ‘learn to breathe? I don’t really even think about it’, that is something which is very common with runners but in fact if your breathing technique is not correct it can often lead to greater running stress which could as a result increase the chances of injuries affecting you. This blog will look at the steps you can take to improve your breathing technique and lead to better times in future events.
The breathing technique we will be talking about is Rhythmic breathing, Rhythmic breathing has been found to help limit the chances of runners being affected by injuries; runners deliver a lot of pressure and force to their joints especially in their legs and hips with each foot landing causing an impact 3/4x that of your own body weight. This impact is at its highest when your foot landing coincides with a runner exhaling, this is because when you exhale the muscles surrounding your diaphragm relaxes leading to a loss of stability in your core. A loss of stability on force impact is a recipe for a running injury.
Rhythmic breathing as opposed to normal breathing leads your foot strike to coincide with inhalation and exhalation in an odd/even pattern and as such you will land on both your right and left foot during exhalation which will help to distribute the impact equally over the body limiting damage to primarily one side of the body.
Breathing while Running
Before learning the rhythmic breathing technique, you must first learn to breathe first through your diaphragm. During a breath your diaphragm contracts and moves downwards while the muscles in your chest contract expanding your rib cage which as a result increases your chest cavity allowing for the maximum amount of air to be brought in to your lungs. The more air you inhale obviously means the more oxygen can be transferred to your working muscles. With many people often not using their diaphragm and instead focusing on breathing with their chest muscles which will bring in less oxygen compared to diaphragm or Rhythmic breathing.
Belly Breathing Technique
- Lie down on your back.
- Keep your upper chest and shoulders still.
- Focus on raising your belly as you inhale.
- Lower your belly as you exhale.
- Inhale and exhale through both your nose and mouth.
Establishing a Breathing Pattern
Many runners will often run with a 2:2 or 3:3 breathing technique; this means they inhale for 2/3 steps and exhale for 2/3 steps. With rhythmic breathing it is much better to have more inhales than exhales which will result in your core being more stable thus reducing the chances of injuries occurring. With rhythmic breathing its is best to start with a 3:2 breathing pattern (3 inhales, 2 exhales). Before going on a run, it would be beneficial to see how the breathing pattern feels, in the early stages you will have to manually monitor your breathing if it is something you have not done before, after a while however it will become automatic and something that will occur naturally.
With higher intensity running a 3:2 pattern is too slow and as such we would recommend a 2:1 pattern for any sprints or races, you will be breathing more per minute as a result while also avoiding exhaling on the same foot repeatedly and instead like we said earlier spreading the force of impact across both sides of your body. If you want to increase your intensity even further to an all-out sprint a pattern like a 2:1:1: 1:1 should work effectively (2 inhales, 1 exhale, 1 inhale, 1 exhale etc.). If you can administer rhythmic breathing to your running you will find yourself enjoying a calmer running experience, a safer running experience for you and due to the breathing style it will often lead to quicker times during events.