How You Breathe While Running
Could be Causing Injuries!

December 2014--The Peaceful Runner Newsletter #51

Dear Friend,

Welcome to our monthly newsletter -- How You Breathe While Running Could Be Causing Injuries! 

Our breathing is often an overlooked consideration in the incidence of injuries. However, how we breathe is extremely important, not only to running but also to our health and longevity. We hope you take time over the holidays to take many deep and relaxing breaths as you spend time with family and friends. Enjoy!  


How Do You Breathe While Running?


Take time to notice how you breathe while running. Breathing uses a lot of energy and if you are not breathing efficiently, you are using too much effort and energy and are not performing a quality oxygen exchange. This places a great amount of stress and tension in your body which often results in injuries and illnesses. So how should we breathe while running?

Nose breathing (inhaling and exhaling) is the most efficient method of breathing. It relaxes the body and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system keeping us calm and our whole body relaxed. It also slows down the breath and stimulates deep diaphragmatic breathing. It is how we breathe when we are relaxed. 

How You Breathe While Running

If we breathe using our mouth, the sympathetic nervous system is stimulated and cortisol, the stress hormone, is released. Constantly putting our bodies in this stressful state can be dangerous to our health. It increases our heart rate, raises blood pressure, tightens and tenses our muscles. It makes running hard, very tiring and greatly increases the risk of injury. 

Have you ever watched other runners finishing a race? Many are gasping for air and are obviously under great duress as they cross the finish line. They are breathing high in the chest and gulping as much air as possible to get enough oxygen. This requires rapid breathing and a faster heart rate and can result in hyperventilation. 

Breathing in and out through our nose will slow down our breathing, our heart rate and directs the breath deep down into our belly with the help of the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a large muscle and can easily perform the work required to breathe.

Shallow breathing in the chest uses the secondary breathing muscles in the neck and back and requires much more effort. It can cause strain on these muscles often resulting in neck and back pain. Shallow breathing also activates upper-chest stress receptors which trigger the burning of sugar and storing of fat.

"Your breathing should flow gracefully, like a river, like a watersnake crossing the water, and not like a chain of rugged mountains or the gallop of a horse.

To master our breath is to be in control of our bodies and minds.
 
Each time we find ourselves dispersed and find it difficult to gain control of ourselves by different means, the method of watching the breath should always be used.
"

-- Thích Nhất Hạnh

When you first try to nose breathe while running, you will probably find it difficult as it takes time to develop your respiratory fitness. Initially, you will have to slow down. Try doing it on flat surfaces first and when you have that mastered, try nose breathing on hills. It may take a few weeks to conquer, but it will be well worth it in the long run for your health and for ease of running. Running will feel easier and your won't feel so tired after running. 

Nose breathing while running can feel scary at first. You may think that you cannot get enough oxygen. Don't give in to the fear! Allow it to arise but continue to breathe through your nose. You won't die! Remember that breathing is automatic. You can't stop yourself from breathing even if you tried!

Slow down and allow your respiratory capacity to improve. Breath slower and less often. Concentrate more on the exhale. Do a 1 to 2 breath ratio. If you breathe in for 3 seconds, breathe out for 6 seconds. Practice this throughout the day and it will become easier while running. You will experience less stressful running and a meditative calm as you learn to slow down your breathing and increase your respiratory capacity using nose breathing.

Humans are designed to be nose breathers and we are not accessing the many benefits that it provides if we use our mouths for breathing. We only learned to breathe through our mouth as a response to stress. It is a survival response trigger that was designed to be used only in emergency situations, i.e. when fleeing from danger or extreme stress. It was not designed to be used on a regular basis. 


When we use our nose for breathing, we utilize the mucous membrane of the nasal passageway to properly prepare the air for entry into our bodies. It works with the hair-like cilia to clean, filter, moisten and bring the air to the right temperature for efficient oxygen exchange.

Nose breathing helps to prevent infection, keeps the heart rate down, relaxes the body, encourages diaphragmatic breathing and utilizes the oxygen and blood-rich lower lobes of the lungs. During inhalation, the diaphragm contracts and pulls the air into the lower lobes of the lungs. During exhalation, the diaphragm relaxes and the carbon dioxide (CO2) is released from the lower lobes. 

Diaphragmatic breathing allows for an efficient oxygen exchange which doesn't happen if we use our mouths to shallow breathe into our upper chest. Shallow chest breathing uses only the upper and middle portions of the lungs and not the oxygen and blood-rich lower lobes. It is easier to get large amounts of air into the upper portions of the lungs this way, but a quality oxygen exchange requires an ample blood supply which can only be achieved through diaphragmatic breathing.  

Mouth breathing requires more work and places more stress on the heart and body. It can also cause hyperventilation due to too much oxygen in the blood. We need to access and release the CO2 from our lower lobes to breathe and run efficiently, stress-free and injury free!

So if you haven't been paying attention to how you breathe while running, please take notice. Properly breathing through your nose will take time to learn and adjust to, but the health benefits and running benefits will be well worth it. You will feel more relaxed while running and it will feel easier. You will also be preventing infections and protecting your heart.  

How do you breathe while running? Have you tried nose breathing while running? We would love to hear from you. Please add your comments/opinions below. Thanks for reading the full article!

As always, keep running, smiling and be happy and peaceful!

With love and peace,

Jackie

You may also be interested in this article on: 

How to Improve Your Breathing While Running

Back to top of How You Breathe While Running Could Be Causing Injuries!

Return to Are You Prone to Running Injuries?




If you have enjoyed this newsletter and would like to have it delivered to your Inbox monthly, you can subscribe here.

You can also:  

Like Us on Facebook

Follow Us on Twitter

Or share this page and/or add your comments below:

Recent Articles

  1. Affirmations Help Runners Achieve Their Goals!

    Oct 02, 22 08:10 AM

    Affirmations Work

    Affirmations are powerful and can work for everyone but they must be done properly. When they don't work, we must find the reason and correct it.

    Read More

  2. How to Relax While Running

    Sep 14, 22 07:07 AM

    How to relax

    Relaxing your body will improve running performance. Tension promotes injuries, draws energy from our bodies, and prevents us from running our best. A relaxed body uses less effort and thus can run f…

    Read More

  3. Finally - a cure for hiccups!

    Aug 30, 22 12:40 PM

    HiccAway

    Do you or someone in your family suffer from troublesome hiccups? HiccAway is a drug free, reusable natural cure for hiccups. Works instantly with water!

    Read More

  4. 5 Reasons Runners Need to Meditate!

    Aug 30, 22 04:39 AM

    Meditate

    Meditation improves our health but it also improves running in numerous ways. Find out why runners need to meditate and how you can start your meditation practice today.

    Read More

  5. A Loving Kindness Meditation For Running

    Aug 22, 22 12:28 PM

    Loving Kindness

    Much research has been conducted on the effects of loving kindness meditation on emotional and physical health showing incredible results. Now you can practice while running!

    Read More

  6. An Ancient Technique that Improves Running

    Aug 05, 22 02:21 AM

    Ancient Technique

    Use this technique to develop focus and awareness to improve running. Move more easily and effortlessly.

    Read More

  7. How to Stop a Charley Horse Instantly!

    Jul 28, 22 09:48 AM

    Charley Horse

    Stop a painful charley horse cramp instantly! These painful calf cramps must be stopped immediately to prevent the muscle from becoming sore. Find out how!

    Read More

  8. Make Running in Hot Weather Easier!

    Jun 30, 22 05:54 AM

    Hot Weather

    We can take action to help our bodies feel more comfortable running in the heat and prevent the onset of heat related illnesses!

    Read More

  9. Behavioural Kinesiology Can Help Us Become Stronger Runners

    Jun 18, 22 01:00 PM

    Behavioural Kinesiology

    Run strong with behavioural kinesiology. Use this technique to positively stimulate our muscles to stay strong while running.

    Read More

  10. Is Taking Walk Breaks While Running Cheating?

    May 25, 22 12:24 PM

    Walk Breaks

    Find out why many runners swear by it as the safest and most enjoyable way to build strength and increase endurance.

    Read More