As runners we tend to focus on building our legs, strengthening our core, eating right and perfecting our running form. What we have most likely overlooked is the element most essential for any activity, our breathing, maybe because we’ve been doing it so naturally from birth.
How To Know If You’re Breathing The Wrong Way
Place one hand over your chest, and another over your belly, and breathe like you normally would. The hand that rises and falls with each breath shows if you are a chest breather or a belly breather.Most runners are chest breathers.
Chest breathing, also known as shallow breathing, can bring about side stitches, increases overall muscle fatigue and makes you more susceptible to injury.
Belly Breathing And Why It’s Important
When you inhale deeply using your belly, your diaphragm is drawn to its lowest possible point and fills your lungs to its greatest volume. This not only increases the amount of oxygen available for usage but gets air deep into your lungs where it can be easily absorbed by the alveoli into your bloodstream. This translates into more efficient energy production and greater endurance as more oxygen is transferred to your working muscles in single breath. Research by the Centre for Sports Medicine and Human Performance at Brunel University revealed a direct link between strained breathing and leg weakness. The harder the respiratory muscles had to work, the more the legs struggled in a race.
Breathing deeply also maximizes the use of the diaphragm, a larger and sturdier muscle compared to the intercostals, the muscles responsible for the elevation and depression of your rib cage when you breathe through your chest. By fully utilizing your diaphragm, you will find that you will breathe easier for longer periods. To top it off, deep belly breathing lengthens your spine and improves your running posture.
The Cure For Side Stitches
The diaphragm is a muscle that assists in breathing and it has two supporting ligaments. The accelerated breathing that occurs during exercise can put undue strain on these ligaments and bring about side stitches. When you utilize your diaphragm for breathing, it reduces the stress on the supporting ligaments, and alleviates side stitches.