Osteopath And Athlete Jean-Francois Harvey Answers Your Running Questions

Q Should I think about how I breathe when I run?

A Yes, breathing properlywill help you save energy.According to some studies, nearly20 per cent of the energy expendedduring running is connected to theeffort of the respiratory muscles.What’s more, it appears that thefeeling of struggling to breathe hasan influence on your nervous system– and therefore on fatigue, too.Proper breathing primarily involvesthe diaphragm muscle. At rest, thismuscle alone is able to ensure acomplete breathing cycle. When itcontracts, your diaphragm expandsthe volume of the abdomen and ribcage, creating a vacuum so air issucked into the lungs. When youexhale, your diaphragm releases,forcing air out of your lungs.If you up your activity, though,your body needs more oxygenand your diaphragm needs othermuscles (‘the accessory muscles’) tolend a hand.

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Most runners make littleuse of their diaphragm muscles andwork their accessory muscles toohard. During a low- to moderate-intensity run, the diaphragm shouldbe doing pretty much all the work.A poor running posture preventsyour rib cage from expandingproperly in all three dimensions,hindering the work of the diaphragm(it may be worth having your gaitanalysed by a running specialist).A lack of mobility in the chestand spine prevents the diaphragmfrom contracting properly and limitsthe expansion of the rib cage.And overusing the accessorymuscles can make breathingless efficient, too.Breathe in and out through yournose during low- or medium-intensity runs. Your jaw should feelless tense if you do this, helping tomake your breathing more efficientWhen you breathe in, let your bellyswell gently, then allow your rib cageto expand in all three dimensions(forwards, sideways and back).When you breathe out, let the airescape without trying; keep yourmouth and cheeks soft. Imagineyour lungs are closer to your spinethan to the front (which is the caseKeep your breathing calm andrelaxed, even when you’re runningat a higher intensity. Don’t try tobreathe too much. And lastly, trydoing some mobility exercisessuch as the yoga pose cat/cow.


January 13, 2018Begin the new year feeling fit byentering this popular 5K, whichstarts at Holyrood Park and loopsaround Arthur’s Seat. A junior runand the Great Edinburgh XCountryare also taking place, so it’s a goodfamily day out; greatrun.org.


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