How is your running breathing? Do you breathe deeply into your lungs or are your breaths rapid and shallow? Is your breathing relaxed, smooth with an even rhythm or are you gasping with each breath?
Do you use your mouth, your nose or both? Do you often develop painful side stitches? Read on to learn how to improve your breathing while running and your running efficiency, how to stop painful side stitches and how to strengthen your diaphragm.
Keeping your mouth open slightly while running will help relax your face and make breathing deeply easier. It is important to breathe deeply into the lungs to supply your muscles with the oxygen and energy they need to perform efficiently. Belly breathing will help you breathe deeply, prevent painful side stitches and strengthen the diaphragm.
If you breathe through the chest and your breathing is shallow, you are probably not getting enough oxygen. Your breathing may become quite labored at times particularly when you are expending more energy, e.g. doing speed drills, running uphill.
Chest breathing can also cause your shoulders to tense--wasting precious energy. Your shoulders should be back and your chest open for efficient breathing and maximum oxygen intake.
Having a strong diaphragm will help your running breathing. The diaphragm is the muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen. Strengthen the diaphragm by taking slow deep breaths into your belly.
Belly breathing contracts and strengthens the diaphragm and allows you to inhale more oxygen and exhale more carbon dioxide. Belly breathing will help you breathe more efficiently and provide the energy you need to run, so you won't tire so easily or feel like you are running out of breath.
As belly breathing uses the stomach muscles to contract the diaphragm, over time you will probably notice a leaner, flatter tummy. What more incentive do you need to give belly breathing a try?
Belly breathing can be a difficult technique to learn, so you will need to practice. Place your hand on your belly. When belly breathing correctly, you will feel your tummy push out as you inhale and back in when you exhale.
To ensure you are doing this correctly, try what I refer to as "forced belly breathing." To do this, completely exhale all the air from your lungs through your mouth. Then when you inhale, your breath naturally goes to your belly. Practice this at home as it can be difficult to learn during running.
With practice it will become much easier to belly breath while running. Eventually, it will become your natural method for running breathing. You will be able to enjoy a more relaxed and efficient running method with reduced occurrences of side stitches.
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