Spirometry isn’t just for those with chronic lung diseases. It is also a great tool for athletes, including runners.
Whether you are a distance runner, a jogger, or a sprinter, it is incredibly beneficial to focus on your breathing and to test it regularly. Why is proper breathing important for runners, and how can spirometry help you?
Benefits of Proper Breathing When Running
According to a study by Summit Medical Group, “Taking in regular, deep breaths promotes the transfer of oxygen that powers the muscles [and] eliminates waste gases such as carbon dioxide.” Likewise, professional runner and running coach Neely Spence Gracey states, “Bringing awareness to your breathing builds more efficiency, a steadier pace, and a calmer mind, even during high-pressure races.”
There are many benefits to monitoring your breathing as a runner, including the following.
- Improvement in Health
- Increase in Focus and Mental Clarity
- A More Steady Pace
- Heightened Endurance
- Soothed Anxiety (calmer mind)
Breathing Techniques for Runners
Not all runners run at the same pace. However, the overall rules of breathing stay the same no matter what type of runner you are, including distance runner, sprinter, base runner, and jog runner. To maintain a steady pace and take in the maximum amount of oxygen, focus on the following breathing techniques.
As your heart rate increases, your body requires more oxygen. Your body often tries to remedy this on its own by reverting to short, gasping breaths. The problem with short inhalation is that your body only takes in a little oxygen at a time. To steady your heart rate and oxygen intake, focus on expanding your diaphragm and taking in slow, deep breaths.
If you have trouble breathing deeply, practice breathing rhythmically. Take two or three steps as you inhale and two or three as you exhale. Try not to breathe on every step, as this again causes you to take in small amounts of oxygen.
Count as you breathe.
Goals always motivate, no matter how small. If you decide to breathe rhythmically by counting, count your way to a certain number (such as 50 or 100), and then start over. Counting often takes the focus off the burning in your legs or lungs and helps pass the time.
How Does Spirometry Benefit Runners?
Since breathing is so important in running, it is important to monitor how your lungs are performing. Spirometry allows you to test your lung capacity and force. This helps you know whether or not you are taking in the proper amount of oxygen for the exercise you are putting out.
Additionally, taking a lung test can help you see clear signs of improvement. Particularly if you are training for a race or working toward a scholarship, you need to train your lungs as well as your legs. Since your lungs are operated by muscles, training them to breathe well is actually a workout for your body.
Finally, spirometry helps you monitor potential threats to your health. Many individuals do not realize that they have asthma or another chronic lung condition until they begin exercising regularly. Make sure you track your breathing output to make sure you aren’t harming your lungs while training.