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How to Breathe While Running

As a new runner, you probably haven’t given much thought to how to improve breathing while running. After all, who needs to be taught how to breathe? But soon into your journey into the world of running nearly you begin to think of concerns on improving performance and want to gain a better understanding of proper technique and start to wonder how to improve breathing while running.

In fact, most runners could benefit from learning a few breathing techniques. Understanding how to improve your breathing while running will not only boost your performance, but also reduce common injuries that often plague runners.

Become a Belly Breather

Do you tend to take shallow breaths when you’re feeling tired? Most people breathe through their chest, which isn’t the best way to maximize their oxygen intake.

Belly breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, is a technique which allows you to maximize your oxygen intake while you run. It works by engaging the diaphragm to create more space in your chest cavity, allowing your lungs to expand fully to take in more oxygen.

Deep belly breathing increases the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your muscles and will stave off fatigue for longer. It has another benefit as well; a growing number of studies show that belly breathing has a calming effect, which can improve your focus and mental fortitude.

Inhale and Exhale Through Both Your Nose and Mouth

Breathing in and out through only your mouth can have a hyperventilating effect, while breathing in and out only through only your nose won’t provide you with enough oxygen on your run. The best way to breathe while running is to inhale and exhale using both your nose and mouth combined

Breathing through both the mouth and the nose will keep your breathing steady and engage your diaphragm for maximum oxygen intake. It also allows you to expel carbon dioxide quickly.

Practice breathing through both your nose and mouth during the day. This might be difficult because we’re hardwired to breathe in and out through just our noses. Once you’ve got this down, you can move on to our next tip: learning the best breathing patterns during cardio to run faster and prevent injury.

Time Your Breathing with Your Cadence

Do you always seem to get injured on one side of your body? Learning the right breathing pattern to match your cadence may help prevent those nagging injuries and boost your running performance.

Rhythmic breathing, also called cadence breathing, describes the number of steps you take on inhale and on exhale. If you’re like most runners, you have a natural tendency to have an even number of foot strikes for each inhale and exhale.

For example, if you have a 2:2 breathing pattern, you inhale every two steps and exhale every two steps. This even breathing pattern can lead to injuries because the exhale is always on the same foot.

Warm Up Your Respiratory System

If you frequently get side stitches on your runs, you aren’t alone. According to a study, 70 percent of runners report experiencing this stabbing side pain.

Although the exact cause of side stitches is still uncertain, we do know that it happens when the diaphragm muscle starts cramping. Considering how the diaphragm muscle plays a significant role in our breathing, it stands to reason that improper breathing may a likely cause of side stitches. Side stitches seem to occur more often in new runners, further supporting this theory.

Warming up your diaphragm before taking off at your usual pace can reduce the chances of developing this annoying side stitch. First, start by practicing your deep belly breathing technique to relax your diaphragm muscle.

Next, start slowly and focus on maintain your breathing technique. Gradually increase your speed to give your diaphragm time to adjust to harder breathing. This will warm up the entire body and allow you to run stitch-free. Make sure to store your gear with a secure running belt on your next run.