Nose Breathing While Running: How to Breathe Properly While Running
Should I breathe through my nose or mouth? It’s a question so basic, many runners forget to even ask. Of all the details runners may consider when evaluating how to improve performance, breathing usually isn’t one of them. While form, pace, stride length and other variables might all be subject to adjustment in a single run, it’s common for breathing to occur naturally, and without any second thought.
Unfortunately for those runners who don’t consider breathing to be something they need to pay attention to, they’re overlooking a key performance factor. Breathing is the process of taking in oxygen to fuel your activity, and there are right and wrong ways to do it. If you’re currently breathing inefficiently during your runs, you could be holding yourself back.
There are several misconceptions about breathing that have long been circulated within running circles. In this article, we’ll dispel these common myths and teach how you should be breathing to support your performance.
The common myths about breathing while running
Opinions on proper breathing can vary from one runner to the next. Some say nose breathing helps regulate your breathing and warms the air before it hits your lungs. Others insist that mouth breathing is a more natural style and increases your ability to maximize oxygen intake.
Some people may also struggle with breathing in a natural way. If you’ve developed a sense of comfort with one breathing style, it might be tempting to continue on in that fashion. It’s important to remember that, when it comes to running, what’s natural isn’t always what’s most efficient. It might be a rough transition, but if you determine that your current running habits — be them breathing or otherwise — aren’t in the best efforts of your performance, you should always try to change them.
Of course, sometimes it’s knowing what’s best that is the greatest challenge of all.
Nose vs. Mouth Breathing: Which is Better?
Fortunately for runners, there is a general consensus among running experts regarding how you should breath while exercising.
Mouth breathing is by far the best way to breath while running, largely because it brings in more oxygen than breathing through the nose.
But there are other benefits working in its favor: Forcing air through the nostrils can tighten your jaw and other facial muscles, and tension is never good for running. Mouth breathing, meanwhile, relaxes the jaw and can have a similar effect on the rest of the body.
Some runners do prefer to breathe through both the mouth and nose, maximizing air intake. But whatever you do, don’t be afraid to let your mouth hang open: You’ll be a better runner for it.
Remember: Always Breathe from the Stomach
Proper breathing isn’t entirely determined to the face. How you force air in and out of your lungs can affect how well you take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. To make the most of your breathing, make sure you avoid the nasty habit of chest breathing in favor of what’s called diaphragmatic breathing.
Chest breathing is a weak form of breathing. It’s too shallow to bring in maximal oxygen and doesn’t fully expel your lungs when you exhale. Instead, your breathing should be diaphragmatic, meaning the action of inhaling and exhaling extends down into your stomach. As you breathe, your stomach should expand and contract as your diaphragm forces air into and out of your lungs. Your chest, meanwhile, should remain mostly still, but you’ll take in more oxygen with every breath.
The next time you go running, be aware of your breathing and your natural inclination to breathe through your nose or mouth. If necessary, focus on making the necessary corrections and taking in breath through your mouth. It may be a struggle at first, but you should eventually be able to transition to a better breathing technique, and do so without thinking. With any luck, you’ll notice an improvement in your running efficiency and performance.