Diaphragmatic Breathing to Improve Running Efficiency

Updated: Jul 31

We've all been there before, hands on your knees gasping for air, feeling as if you'll never catch your breath, but this position in itself is counterproductive. This places increased pressure on your diaphragm and upper chest, making it more difficult for your lungs to expand. With less air flowing into your lungs, the less oxygen that is absorbed increasing the amount of time needed for recovery.

The efficiency at which your body can convert oxygen to energy makes all the difference when your miles or effort level increases. And naturally, the more effectively you inhale and exhale, the better you will perform when running.

Diaphragmatic breathing is the process of breathing from your gut.

Your diaphragm is the dome-shaped muscle resting just below your lungs. It contracts and relaxes, creating a vacuum-like motion to assist your body with respiration. Often, when we tire, we begin breathing faster and shallower, with most of the movement coming from our upper chest area. The problem with this is that we aren't allowing our lungs to expand, which means it may take twice as long for you to recover from a hard effort.

How to Practice Diaphragmatic Breathing

  1. Lay on your back with your knees bent. You may want to place a pillow under your head for comfort.

  2. Place one hand on your chest and one hand over your belly button.

  3. Take a deep breath in through your nose allowing the air to fill your lungs. (You should feel only the hand resting on your belly button move. If you notice the hand on your chest rising, try again until you can isolate the movement)

  4. Part your lips slightly and slowly blow the air out. (Repeat 10 times 2-3 times a day)

Once you begin to feel comfortable breathing from your diaphragm while

laying down, you can start practicing this technique standing up. Eventually, with practice, you should be able to implement some form of this technique when running, improving your performance and decreasing the amount of time needed for recovery.