Breathing: Your ally to improve your athletic performance
When we exercise, we often feel like we are breathing out, which is likely because we are not breathing properly. Did you know that proper breathing technique can improve your performance?
Breathing is central to all the activities we do, but we don't really notice it when we eat, walk or talk, especially when we exercise. Sometimes, during physical activities, one has the impression that breathing is interrupted: this unpleasant feeling almost always occurs before the muscles are exhausted, which is mainly due to the reduced supply of oxygen. This is because when the lungs cannot meet the
oxygen demand of the skeletal muscles, a neurochemical reaction begins, reducing the supply of oxygen to the peripheral muscles, thus creating this feeling of muscle fatigue and pain. In fact, peripheral oxygenation is blocked, which inevitably leads to a decrease in the intensity of the activity performed. However, by increasing our breathing endurance, our performance capabilities will reach the same limits as the muscles involved in the given exercise.
That is why respiratory muscle training delays fatigue and increases endurance. And learning how to breathe properly can have beneficial effects on our bodies and minds.
Breathe better to run better
Take, for example, the relationship between breathing and running: Whether running outdoors or on a treadmill, all beginner runners lose their breath. But what are the secrets to good breathing while running? First, it is necessary to know the difference between thoracic and diaphragmatic breathing.
Chest breathing uses only the upper part of the lungs, and the inhaled air only stays in the lungs for a short time, preventing them from filling completely and thus reducing the oxygen supply. On the other hand, diaphragmatic breathing, which is also called diaphragmatic breathing, allows the maximum
amount of oxygen to enter the body. The diaphragm is the main respiratory muscle, and it allows the rib cage to expand and contract naturally and effortlessly. This type of breathing is very important when running, as it improves effort by reducing lactic acid build-up, or the classic side sutures often experienced by those who don't train regularly.
To feel the abdominal breathing, lie on your back and put your hands on your stomach: inhale and exhale as deeply as possible, until you see your hands rising and falling. It may be difficult at first, but with a little practice, this type of breathing will soon feel natural to you, and it is very beneficial. The purpose of the exercise is to focus attention only on the expansion of the stomach while breathing.
Is it better to breathe through the nose or through the mouth?
When the body is under extreme stress, it needs more oxygen, and by breathing through the mouth we can absorb more. In fact, we all know that when the activity becomes more intense, breathing through the nose is no longer enough. Therefore, the best way to breathe while running is through your nose and mouth. Finally, regarding respiratory rate, do not think it necessary to force it during the race; On the contrary, the best way is to breathe as naturally as possible.
The role of food
Athletic performance is not only improved by training the muscles involved in breathing: nutrition also plays an important role. Breathing and eating are two interrelated processes: in respiration, we take in oxygen which, through our digestive system, is then used to oxidize the nutrients in the food we eat, thus creating the energy we need to live. Breathing deeply and properly means that our body has enough oxygen to generate the most energy from the food we eat, and to keep us healthy.
Air and food, properly processed and used, give the body all the energy it needs to meet the needs of a living organism. We cannot change the quality of the air we breathe, but we can certainly choose the most appropriate quality and quantity of food to meet our needs.