My thoughts on breathing...
A bit more information as it occurs to me about how breathing impacts your health and well-being. If you have questions or want me to address a particular topic, please don't hesitate to contact me!
I can't take full credit for the title of this post...it comes from a colleague of mine at Breathing Works in Auckland, NZ. She was going to use it as the title of a book on breathing pattern disorders, but her publishers advised against. Which is a shame, because that phrase is exactly what came to mind as I ran at Melissa's Road Race in Banff this past weekend as part of a team building event with the good people at the Running Injury Clinic. There was so much panting, huffing and grunting going on that it was disrupting my own breathing! Sure we were in a running race, so you expect breathing to be laboured a bit, but this was excessive! I was genuinely concerned for a few people. So if you find you can't manage running and breathing, read on...
When we exercise, our body requires more energy (oxygen) but also produces more "waste" (carbon dioxide). To keep up with these changing demands, our breathing rate and volume increase, as we move more air in and out of lungs. Often, we switch to mouth breathing to accommodate. But that means we use really inefficient, little muscles in the neck and chest and it generally takes more effort to do so. Thus breathing becomes a bit laboured. But then, some people take it to another extreme and breathe more than they need to. They work really hard! I used quotations around the word "waste" earlier when referring to carbon dioxide, because it is not really just a waste gas. It's an important regulator of pH (acid-base balance) and oxygen distribution. Seems weird that a "waste" gas would help regulate how much oxygen you get, but oxygen and carbon dioxide trade places on red blood cells so without CO2, you don't get O2! Anyway, for those heavy breathers out there, not only are you working too hard with your muscles, you are likely overbreathing and huffing out too much carbon dioxide. This means your body can't work optimally and your poor working muscles might actually be getting LESS oxygen. And it makes you feel short of breath - or more precisely like your breathing isn't helping, so you breathe more....and that creates a vicious cycle of breathing too much, feeling out of breath, breathing more, getting less oxygen, breathing more....You get the idea.
If this sounds familiar to you, then you will likely benefit from a breathing assessment and tips on how to fine tune your breathing. A few tweaks here and there and you can stop sounding the the big, bad wolf out there and find new energy for a personal best!
I'm a physiotherapist who is passionate about educating anyone and everyone about the impact breathing has on our health.