Just as we strengthen our legs, ankles and core in running, we can strengthen the muscles we use to breathe. Nose or mouth? Belly or chest? There’s heaps of information on the web when it comes to efficient running. But it doesn’t just revolve around your diaphragm - there are lots of muscles involved when you’re pounding the ground.
Feeding them the oxygen they need is crucial on a run, and there are plenty of breathing techniques you can use for stronger, longer running.To run brilliantly, without injury, it’s important to understand what’s going on inside your body - so we’ve rounded up a few techniques you can utilise next time you tie up your laces and wrack up the miles.
Before your run
Think of Pavarotti in his classic opera pose. This is the perfect stance to open up your chest ready for a run. Start by standing straight with your feet together, activating your glutes. Inhale, then lift your arms so they’re parallel to the floor with your hands at shoulder-height.
Your breathing should be slow and rhythmic, moving only your arms on an exhale but keeping your body still. Do 10 sets of inhaling and exhaling, then lift your arms over your head and bring your palms together.
During the run
The most common style of breathing is via the chest, but this is actually the weakest form of breathing during a run. Oxygen brought into the body is minimal and you can’t fully expand your lungs on the exhale to expel carbon dioxide.
Ever get a stitch during your run? Chest breathing could be reason why. Next time you head out for a cardio session, try breathing through your diaphragm. This makes your stomach expand and contract, forcing air in and out of your lungs. Avoid the shallow style of breathing and try these deep-belly techniques on your next run:
Breathing for running
Your breathing pattern depends on your level of running. For low-intensity jogs, breathe in for three foot strikes, then exhale for three foot strikes. If you’re upping the pace, breathe in for two steps then breath out for two. To take the pace up to the maximum - such as sprinting at the final length of a race - a breathing rhythm of 1:1 is most effective
A longer inhale when your feet hit the floor helps, because your diaphragm and other breathing muscles contract to make your core stable. This helps prevent injury when your body hits the ground.
You can easily practice this method of breathing by lying on your back and trying the following:
- Lie on your back with your knees hip-width apart, feet flat on floor.
- Rest your hands on your stomach and breathe in and out through your belly.
- Inhale through your nose and your mouth to the count of three, then exhale to the count of three.
- Concentrate on the rhythm of your breath, making sure it’s continuous.
- Once you’re used to this 3:3 style of breathing, tap your feet to mimic the running steps.