Better Breathing For Runners | Physical Therapy Dublin

Do you want a way to improve your running & improve your general health in 2017?
And with the added benefit of no additional time commitment to extra miles, track workouts or gym?!!
Take a moment and answer these questions:
– Do you find yourself gasping for breath a lot while running?
– Is it hard to control your breathing during or after a hard efforts?
– Is your heart rate constantly elevated even on easier runs?
If you answered yes to some or all of these questions then you are not alone in the running community!
Wouldn’t it be great to think that a large part of solving the above could lie in one change that will also have multiple benefits to many other aspects of your general health!
So what is this change?!…..
A Better Breathing Technique.
Learning to breathe better, using your diaphragm to its full capacity, is one of the best time investments any runner can make.
Before reading on, take two minutes to watch the following videos and take the breathing tests discussed.

So what next….. 
These tests will help us to determine your current ability to use your diaphragm and breathe correctly. If you are using your chest and mouth predominantly and unable to exhale for twice the length of your inhale then you are not using your diaphragm to its full capacity.
Improving breathing involves learning to consciously activate your diaphragm to a greater extent during the inhalation and exhalation process.
The diaphragm is the principle muscle in the respiratory process so we are quite literally asking the muscle to do the job is was designed to, however the more common pattern of chest and mouth breathing restricts the ability of the diaphragm to perform it’s role.
Lets take a closer look at this important muscle – The diaphragm as you can see below is a large muscle that lies across your mid body under your ribcage and lungs.
The diaphragm is so important to life that our brain automatically controls its action to ensure respiration occurs. Even though the diaphragm is always working it takes conscious effort to use it to its full potential.
The benefits to using your diaphragm more, both for every day breathing and for running include:
– Improved transfer of oxygen in and out of the body.
– More oxygen to deliver to working muscles while running.
– Improved nervous system control, vitally important to smooth efficient running
– Better heart rate regulation, as consequence of the above points.
– Quicker recovery during and after sessions.
– Less gasping for air while running.
– Better activation of important core muscles such as obliques, TVA and pelvic floor which is the consequence of learning to fully exhale.
– Improved control of pelvic movement and positioning.
– A stronger base for important hip muscles to function, including hip flexors and glutes.
A less favourable breathing technique is to use our mouths and chest to breathe. We see this commonly in runners of all levels at our clinic.
Aswell as counteracting the benefits that are listed above – the over use of the chest and mouth in breathing causes tension in overworked neck muscles.
In addition excessive chest breathing typically causes our rib cage to flare up and out, see pic below. A result of this is our low back spends far too much time in an arched position leading to overuse and tension in low back muscles.
It is also creates a far from ideal position for our pelvis – impacting on all the important muscles and movement of our hips.
Constant mouth breathing can also induce a ‘Fight or Flight’ response which is not beneficial to running. Running is all about efficiancy, we spend hours striving for this through training methods. It makes sense to achieve similar efficiencies to the vital component of inhaling and exhaling oxygen.
In our next blog we’ll delve deeper into the anatomy and movement of diaphragm breathing and give you pointers as to where to start out and ultimately how you can bring this into your running.
Get in contact…
Feel free to interact with us on social media or if you want a more private discussion or wish to find out more about what we do here and how we can benefit your running get in touch with Gary directly on 0867778047.