At DM Athletics, are we ever not looking for ways that our athletes can have the competitive edge when they compete?! It’s amazing to me, just how much the small things matter in performance. For instance, I was unaware of the fact that there is a proper way to breath, in order to recover faster and perform at a higher level. Breathing is something that we do without thinking, and thus it becomes something that most people never take into consideration. Are we breathing in the most optimal way, to perform our best?
In his book The Oxygen Advantage, Patrick McKeown shows how mouth breathing is detrimental to sports performance and overall health. When you breath through your mouth, very little oxygen gets to the diaphragm—which is able to get oxygen to your organs quicker. Alternatively, breathing through your nose allows your body to appropriately filter out the bad, and adjust oxygen temperature prior to it getting to your diaphragm. Mouth breathing dries out your mouth, giving you an increased chance of dental maladies. A dry mouth in combination with sugar, wreaks havoc on the teeth.
So how do we take this information, and improve our lives and sports performance? First, McKeown recommends that we begin breathing through our nose. If our mouth is dry upon rising in the morning, we can tape our lips while we sleep, to force ourselves to breathe through the nose. If you suffer from sleep apnea, do not attempt this, as you will inevitably need to breathe through your mouth at night, during certain points. For athletes, breathe through your nose while you are recovering. There are times during intense competition that you need to breathe through your mouth but as soon as you can, consciously choose to breathe through your nose.
Athletes can also practice breath holding exercises, to improve how the body handles performing without oxygen. Take a normal breath through your nose, and a normal exhale—then pinch your nose, and take as many steps as you can. Inhale as soon as you feel the first sign of needing to take a breath. The goal is to get to the point where you can take 80 steps. Don’t worry if you can take that many steps—I’m in the group that struggles with this. Your ability to be more competitive at the end of games, will improve dramatically, as this score goes up.
Let’s continue to take the small steps to improving our lives and performance.