Ok so this may sound like the impossible task, considering some of the replies I got to my recent stories about whether you guys are runners or not but what if I told you there is a way to make running more comfy?
Given my own health struggles in the last 12months, I finally felt ready to return to running in the last few months and wanting to put my money where my mouth is in terms of a breathing re-training approach to running. If you didn't already know, the basics are super important prior to breathing better with running. We breathe 20,000 breaths a day so let's get majority of them right before approaching running and breathing. For more info see our online course: Breathing Basics and enquire about joining our first round of 2022!
Back to running, nasal breathing (yes that is in and out of the nose) is what the following tips apply to. But what advantages does nasal breathing offer during running/exercising?
Improved oxygen delivery to muscles through the Bohr Effect
Better humidification of air (decreased water loss + dehydration)
Natural pacing + improved blood flow to soft tissues for injury prevention
Just to name a few!
So here go my top tips (in no particular order) to make running more comfy from a breathing perspective:
Address any underlying pain/discomfort: This one may sound obvious but how many of us have niggling injuries that we just kind of ignore? For me, it was knee discomfort from old sports injuries and discomfort from my surgical scars! Put simply for efficient and effortless nasal breathing we must be as relaxed as possible. Next time you run bring awareness to your shoulders are they tensed or relaxed? Broadening through the chest and softening your upper traps will facilitate nasal breathing. If you have niggling injuries, I personally cannot recommend Recover Wellbeing pilates enough for assisting with this!
Gentle mouth breathing/nasal breathing with a slower pace: Ok, so I have no idea where in through your nose out through your mouth came from but it spread like wildfire. If this is you and nasal breathing is a struggle with your exhales, try to make your mouth exhale a little more gente (i.e. closing the mouth slightly, or softening the sound of the breath out the mouth). Remember comfort is king so only as gentle as is comfortable. Reducing your pace or intensity will facilitate a more gentle breath nose or mouth whilst your body adjusts to a new CO2 tolerance. I know this may not be popular advice but it really is go slower to go faster I promise.
Body positioning: again we are throwing it back to tip no. 1 a little. Often times these niggling injuries come from a poor motor pattern. We get in the habit of moving a certain way which can cause overuse injuries overtime if they are not efficient movement patterns. Bringing awareness to your body position and making small adjustments can make a huge impact on efficiency and ease of nasal breathing. Eg) Most people I find lean forward with their torso as they run - this facilitates hip flexor usage amongst other things and can result in less activation of glutes. If you notice you lean forward as you run try to adjust little by little to running a little more upright over your pelvis and see how it affects ease of breathing.
Warming up the nostrils: Ok so particularly on a cold morning or if you notice your nose (one nostril or two) tend to feel a little blocked warm up is important. Two ways I love to do this are by:
Humming (it increases nitric oxide production in the paranasal sinuses by 14 fold which expands blood vessels and facilitates better blood flow)
Gentle head tilt to side of clear nostril (works on postural drainage and preferencial ventilation. Sounds weird but give it a go)
So that's it! If you're still finding nasal breathing and exercising less than easy and want experience the improved efficiency you can book an appointment here.
Let me know how you go in the comments below.