A Breathing Technique to Propel You Through Your Run

Relaxing exercisesRunning and breathing go hand in hand.  Duh.  …you might be thinking.  But, just like your breath carries you through a yoga routine, so does it carry you through your run.  Learning and practicing your breathing technique is a very beneficial part of your training.  Using controlled breath will propel you further through your run.

Learn why using a breathing technique is so important and how to incorporate a breathing practice into your running routine from our expert contributor and Physical Therapist, Chris Johnson.

The Importance of Using a Breathing Technique

When it comes to running, nothing is more important than breathing. The diaphragm is our primary breathing muscle and accounts for ~80% of respiratory work during normal breathing.

Establishing proper breathing technique is essential for runners not only to optimize oxygen intake but to also facilitate building intra-abdominal pressure (IAP), which creates spinal stability (core strength). In the context of sound breathing, the performer should be able to take a breath in without using the upper chest or accessory breathing musculature (pectorals and neck muscles) as this indicates flawed technique.

Training Exercise for Proper Breathing

To train proper diaphragmatic mechanics, the performer should lie on their back with their hips and knees flexed and feet flat on the floor. The knees should be positioned about shoulder width apart. One hand should be placed on the lower abdominal region(below the navel and above the groin just off midline). The performer’s other hand should be placed at the level of the chest. While breathing in one should feel the lower ribcage expand outward in all directions while the IAP slowly builds until it reaches the lower abdominal cavity. During this time, it is important that the hand resting on the chest does not move as this indicates use of the upper airways. It should also be mentioned that diaphragmatic breathing is not belly breathing in which just the front part of the abdomen rises and falls. Once you have mastered this ability, you can start incorporating it into upright postures and eventually running.

Chris Johnson PT, MCMT, ITCA, NYC Physical Therapist

How has incorporating a breathing technique into your routine improved your running performance?


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