The average person breathes up to 17,000-30,000 a day. [Click to Tweet] It's something that we do so often that it's overlooked. Proper breathing during exercise is very important and can affect your athletic performance. It plays a big role in the nervous system function, proper motor function, relaxation, focus, and efficiency. It also provides your muscles with the oxygen they need to contract during activity. With very little training, you can improve your breathing and increase your endurance and performance.
Diaphragmatic breathing is done by the contraction of the diaphragm, a muscle located horizontally between the chest cavity and stomach cavity. Air enters the lungs and the rib cage expands. This is the type of breathing you should aim for.
Apical breathing is also referred to as upper chest breathing, can be caused by a variety of issues, including smoking, stress, poor posture, or asthma.
Breathing through your nose is hands down the most efficient and healthy way to breathe, especially during exercise. Its also the most natural and comfortable way to breathe. Since the nose is a smaller entrance/exit, your breath is not able to escape the lungs as quickly. This provides more oxygen to the vital organs and increases CO2 saturation in the blood.
An additional benefit of nose breathing is cleaner air. Nose hairs (yes, we all have them!) purify the air you breathe by filtering our dust, bacteria and other foreign bodies.
Mouth breathing, on the other hand, is associated with many health problems and should be avoided.
Improve Your Breathing:
Build a strong diaphragm - The diaphragm is a muscle, therefore it can be strengthened. Practice these exercises to work this specific muscle, stretch tight muscles, and improve posture.
Don't hold your breath! - When the body is under physical stress, our first reaction is to hold our breath. Instead, exhale when you exert force (throwing a punch, or hitting a tennis ball) to enrich your muscles and organs with that beautiful oxygen.
Focus on the breath - Breathing is automatic and doesn't require much thought. Change your routine to focus on your breath for better control and endurance.
Train your brain - once you've mastered the right breathing techniques, focus on keeping a steady pace even during strenuous exercise. Those are the times your body needs it's its oxygen the most!
Wear the right mouth guard - To prevent dental injury during sports activities you should wear a mouth guard. Custom fit mouthguards like the NextGen Aero Guard allow you to breathe naturally, without obstruction. This will improve your performance during the game without slowing you down or making you prematurely fatigued.
Do you have good advice about breathing techniques not covered in this blog? Let us know what you do to practice better breathing techniques in your unique sport.