With the arrival of fresh spring air – it’s a good time to take stock of our breathing and see how it can help us to improve our performance when exercising.
Breathing is something we do without conscious thought – and we do it a lot! Somewhere between 17,000 and 26,000 times a day for the average adult.
When exercising at full capacity – breathing can account for as much as 10 percent of our total oxygen consumption – simply in the effort to keep the air coming in as fast as we need it.
So breathing ‘correctly’ is vital and it means avoiding painful hindrances such as side stitches. Doctors aren’t in full agreement over what exactly a side stitch is, but it almost certainly happens if you abuse your diaphragm badly enough and produce something akin to a cramp.
The main cause of a side stitch is working out hard after a big meal – all of that food in your stomach is likely to make your diaphragm very unhappy. However something else that can contribute is what experts call ‘chest breathing’.
Chest breathing is when you breathe primarily with your upper chest muscles, rather than your diaphragm. It occurs mostly because we tend to be self-conscious about how others perceive our bodies, and we start trying to suck in our gut and throw out our chest while breathing in.
The problem is that however wonderful this might make you look, it constricts your breathing and can cause stitches.
So how to ensure you’re breathing deep, but breathing right?
Try to get into rhythmic breathing – inhale for three steps, exhale for two, inhale for three steps, exhale for two. Try to inhale and exhale smoothly and continuously through both your nose and mouth at the same time. Practice makes perfect on this one folk, comment below to let us know how you got on!