Running performance improves with deeper breathing

running performance

An article in the October 2016 edition of Runner’s World UK says you can boost your running performance with each breath you take. But you have to choose the right type of training. And that is training that gets oxygen to where you need it.

Improving running performance starts with your breathing

Breathing training will help you with this. It helps you to get oxygen into your legs and will help avoid breathlessness from the start. In fact Dr John Dickinson recommends you pay attention to your breathing before you even start running. Dr Dickinson is Head of the Respiratory Clinic at the University of Kent.

Warm-up your breathing muscles

A research study(1) has found that a standard pre-exercise warm-up routine will fail to prepare the breathing muscles for the rigours of exercise. And not warming up the breathing muscles will lead to excessive breathlessness as you start running.

Improve the muscles that inflate your lungs

Strengthening your inspiratory muscles is something that is suggested in the article. Because it is not possible to train the lungs or grow more alveoli (where gas exchange takes place), this is the one thing you can do. By training the inspiratory muscles you’ll be able to get more air into your lungs.

POWERbreathe IMT recommended in article

One of the author’s of the article suggests practising more efficient diaphragmatic breathing through inspiratory muscle training. It mentions ‘the popular’ POWERbreathe. POWERbreathe is an Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) device. The article goes on to say how in studies POWERbreathe improved inspiratory muscle strength by 31% and inspiratory muscle endurance by 27%. It also states how POWERbreathe also improved recovery during repeated sprints by 7%.

How breathing better improves running performance

Research and trials(2,3) suggest that during heavy exercise, blood flow (and therefore oxygen delivery) to your exercising muscles is inversely related to respiratory work. This means that your inspiratory muscles are capable of stealing blood from your other working muscles. This in turn will impair your performance. Other research on inspiratory muscle training (IMT) and exercise performance reveals a reduction in whole body effort sensation. This means that after 4-weeks of IMT, people didn’t feel they were exercising as hard and were therefore able to push themselves that bit further. Because of this they were increasing their training intensity and ultimately their performance.

POWERbreathe IMT improves running performance

When you use POWERbreathe IMT to subject your inspiratory muscles, mainly your diaphragm and intercostals to an appropriate training resistance, they will adapt. They will increase in strength, power and stamina. And although running will strengthen your diaphragm to a degree, “you don’t get the results you get with inspiratory training”, says Dr Graham Sharpe. ‘The most accessible method is a device such as POWERbreathe’, the article says. Dr Graham Sharpe is Principal Lecturer at the School of Science and Technology, Nottingham Trent University.


1 Specific respiratory warm-up improves rowing performance and exertional dyspnoea

2 The influence of inspiratory muscle work history and specific inspiratory muscle training upon human limb muscle fatigue

3 Effect of inspiratory muscle work on peripheral fatigue of locomotor muscles in healthy humans

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