Two Thirds of Runners Fail to Employ Techniques to Help Breathing ‘Strain’
New research from an online sports equipment retailer in the UK suggests that 63% of runners are failing to utilise proper breathing techniques, despite ‘breathing’ being cited by the majority of runners as the area in which they feel the most strain when exercising.
Despite ‘breathing’ being cited as the biggest strain when it comes to running, a new study has found that nearly two thirds of runners, 63%, admitted that they have ‘never’ looked into proper or suggested breathing techniques in an attempt to lessen the strain or improve their workout. In contrast, 81% have looked up or employed techniques to aid muscular strain when running.
The study, conducted by Sweatband.com, polled 1,209 male and female runners of a wide variety of ability and from all over the UK as part of ongoing research into fitness habits and exercise techniques. All respondents were aged 18 and over.
Respondents were initially asked, ‘How often do you go running?’ which revealed the following results:
Several times a week 28%
Once a week 32%
Less frequently 24%
Respondents were then asked, ‘Do you run for pleasure or for the necessity of keeping fit?’ to which those who ran most frequently, several times a week or more, were the most likely to say ‘pleasure’ as 52% of these respondents said that was their main focus for running. Of those that ran less frequently, once a week or less, 68% stated that they only ran ‘to keep fit’, rather than for enjoyment.
Those taking part were asked, ‘When running, what area (s) of your body do you believe is under the most strain?’ which revealed ‘the lungs’ to be number one, as 41% of respondents said they struggled to breathe when running. 33% said ‘muscle fatigue’ caused them the most discomfort, whilst a further 26% said that it was the ‘mental strain’ which took the biggest toll on them as they struggled to find the determination to keep running.
Bearing in mind that breathing was cited as the biggest problem, the study asked whether or not respondents had ever looked into or employed different breathing techniques to help resolve this as an issue, to which only 37% of runners said that ‘yes’ they had. The vast majority, 63%, said ‘no’. In contrast, of those who cited ‘muscle fatigue’ as a problem, 81% had looking into or employed different techniques to help resolve this as an issue.
Of the runners that said ‘yes’, 61% felt that they had seen better results from attempting to adapt their breathing. Furthermore, the majority, 54%, of these explained that they had seen better results from learning to ‘pace’ or ‘slow’ their breathing during a run.
The 63% of respondents that said they didn’t look into breathing techniques were asked why they failed to do so, which revealed the top reason, as cited by 72% of these respondents, to be simply that they believed that they were ‘unfit’ and that their breathing would ‘improve with time’.
Maz Darvish, CEO of Sweatband.com, had the following comment to make:
‘There is mixed opinion on which is the best breathing technique when running. Should you breathe through the nose or the mouth? Or perhaps both? Each technique has its benefits. Running with a mouthful of water and breathing through your nose was an ancient technique to improve fitness, but the simple fact is that more air can enter your lungs if you breathe through your mouth. For those struggling to catch their breath whilst running, it’s important that they focus on their breathing rather than just the pain in their legs, thinking the overall will improve with time. As breathing improves, leg pain and lung pain should diminish.”
Breathing when running is a huge issues for me and definitely what is keeping me back from being a better runner. But my breathing technique has improved massively over the last year and here are some of the things that have worked for me:
- Good posture. This isn’t just important when sitting down, but when running too. Stand up tall and it will make your breathing more efficient. Keep your head up and looking forward rather than looking at the ground.
- Inhale through your nose and out through your month. I learnt this in yoga and it works for me when running too.
- Breathe the 2:2 pattern. This means that I breathe in for 2 foot strikes and out for 2. This worked for me in the beginning, but I have since moved on to a 2:2 pattern.
- Breathe from your belly. Don’t just breathe from your chest, take some long deep breathes.
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