How to Breathe While Running for Maximized Efficiency and Minimal Strain?

You love to run and always have. Of course, you feel this way, because it’s great exercise and it really helps you clear your head.

Unfortunately, you don’t do it more because you have some problems when it comes to learning how to breathe while running.

It’s not that you’re in bad shape, but you feel like if you improve your breathing patterns, you would be able to run faster and avoid putting strain on your body. And you’re right in thinking this.

The truth is that there are breathing techniques that you can practice that will make running much more enjoyable for you.

If you have an interest in learning how to breathe while running, this information could change your life!

Common Breathing Mistakes for Runners

Common Breathing Mistakes for Runners

There are many breathing mistakes that people make while running. However, there are two common ones that you can easily fix. This is a big part of learning how to breathe while running.

A lot of runners focus on training their legs and hearts when they’re running. However, they often make the mistake of ignoring their lungs and diaphragm.

You can breathe much more efficiently if you learn to breathe fully utilizing your diaphragm.

The other very common mistake is putting more strain on one side of the body than the other. You can actually remedy this by learning how to utilize rhythmic breathing while you’re running.

Training, training, and more training

If you want to learn how to breathe while running, one thing you need to do is learn a little bit about the anatomy involved.

Basically, you have to learn how to utilize your lungs and diaphragm properly while you’re running.

Think about it. Your muscles need oxygen in order to be able to give you optimal running performance. Doesn’t it make sense, then, that learning how to breathe while running could be the best possible thing for your performance?

Fully breathing

When you think about breathing, you probably think about your lungs first, right? The truth is that your diaphragm actually does about 80 percent of the work when you take a breath.

So the key to learning how to breathe while running actually lies in conditioning your diaphragm more than anything having to do with your lungs.

In fact, it’s been shown that runners who have the most strained breathing have the most weakness in their legs and are more likely to become fatigued during a race.

If you want to be the best runner you can be, it’s important to learn to breathe fully while you’re running.

Belly breathing

It’s important to learn how to breathe with your belly, rather than your chest. Most runners make the mistake of breathing with their chests instead.

If you breathe with your belly, you’ll be able to inhale more air into the air sacs of your lungs. That will end up delivering more oxygen to your body, including the muscles that you need for running.

There’s a fairly simple way to tell if you’re breathing with your lungs or your diaphragm. After you’ve been running for a period of time, put one hand on your chest and one on your abdomen.

If you’re breathing with your belly, the hand on your abdomen should be moving, while the one on your chest should be relatively still.

Unfortunately, with most runners, the opposite is true. The good news is that you can change this and really learn how to breathe while running!

Coordinate these two things

Did you know that each time your foot hits the ground, the force of impact equals two to three times your body weight?

It’s also worth knowing that the impact of your foot hitting the ground is the highest when it happens as you’re beginning an exhalation.

The reason for this is when you are starting to exhale, your diaphragm and the muscles associated with it relax. That leads to a situation where there is less stability in your core. 

Less stability in your core at the time when the greatest impact is being forced upon your leg and foot creates a significantly higher chance of injury in that leg and foot.

If you’re not practicing rhythmic breathing, chances are that you’re exhaling while landing on the same foot each time. That is obviously going to place an uneven amount of strain on both sides of your body.

It’s also going to subject the side of your body where you’re landing as you exhale to a higher risk of injuries.

Have you ever noticed that one of your feet always seems to carry the aches and pains, while the other is almost always fine? Does one side of your body consistently feel more worn down than the other?

If you’re not mindfully keeping track of your breathing while you’re running, there is a very good chance that this could be the why.

How to Breathe While Running: Techniques to Practice

The best way to breathe when you’re running is a technique that is referred to as diaphragmatic breathing. It’s all about learning to use your diaphragm when you’re breathing.

This way, you’ll not only find yourself getting winded much more rarely, but you’ll also set your lungs up so that you’re able to deliver more oxygen to the muscles of your body that you need for running.

If you practice diaphragmatic breathing, you can strengthen your diaphragm and ultimately make it easier for you to breathe.

You can also slow your breathing rate, making breathing less work in general. You’ll need less oxygen to breathe, and it’ll take less effort and energy overall.

You can practice this technique while you’re running. However, in order to get a feel for it, you might want to do it while laying still first.

If you want to get a feel for how to breathe while running, it might be best to understand the actual breathing pattern before trying to apply it during your exercise.

If you truly want to learn how to breathe while running, it’s important that you learn how to breathe from your diaphragm and how to breathe rhythmically.

1. Position matters

The first thing you want to do is get into position. Lie on your back with a pillow underneath your head and your knees bent. You can put a pillow under your knees to give them support.

2. Hands in place

Put one hand on your upper chest and the other just below your rib cage. This will make it possible for you to feel your diaphragm as you’re breathing.

3. Breathe in

Now, it’s time to start the actual breathing. Breathe in through your nose, so that your stomach moves up against the hand that’s beneath your rib cage. Try to keep the hand on your upper chest as still as possible.

4. Now do this

Of course, every inhale is followed by an exhale. When you breathe out, tighten your stomach muscles so that they move inward. Continue to keep the hand that is on your upper chest as still as you can.

5. Apply what you’ve learned

After doing this while lying down for a while, you should get a feel for diaphragmatic breathing. You should also see that it actually allows you to breathe more efficiently then working your upper chest as much as you probably do.

Now, it’s time to actually employ this technique while you’re running. You’ll see that learning how to breathe while running is the best thing you could have done for your exercise sessions.

6. It’s all about rhythm

Another thing you should definitely try to do is coordinate your breathing with your foot strokes while you’re running. Some runners inhale for three steps and exhale for two, for example. This makes your breathing more efficient and injury less likely.

The reason that three-step inhales with two-step exhales is a good idea is that this will prevent you from exhaling on the same foot over and over.

Many runners get trapped in a rhythm where they’re always inhaling or exhaling as the same foot hits the ground, which is exactly what you’re trying to avoid here.

Are You Ready to Run Now?

Now that you know more about how to breathe while running, you’re probably excited to go on your next run. Of course, you’ll need to practice diaphragmatic breathing and rhythmic breathing if you want to see results.

You may not see results immediately. After all, particularly with rhythmic breathing, the main results are going to be less strain on one side of your body.

If you already have aches and pains, it may take a while for them to go away.

However, it’s definitely worth it to practice the techniques described above and see just how they influence your exercise time. Learning how to breathe while running is definitely worth the time and effort.

You’ll likely be really happy you took the time to practice these techniques when you see just how much easier and more enjoyable running is for you!

Do you have anything to say about what you’ve just learned about how to breathe while running? Feel free to shout out in the comments section!

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