Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Are you a Belly Breather?

There are 2 types common types of breathing, Chest Breathing and Belly Breathing.

I am naturally a chest breather, but I'm trying to incorporate Belly breathing into my runs. 
if my old ballet teacher heard this, she'd flip out, because she really discouraged belly breathing.

How do you tell what type you are? 

Take a deep breath.. Does your Chest expand out, or your Belly? 

What Happens when you're a Chest breather? 

   - the neck and chest muscles engage to lift your chest to expand the upper portion of your lungs. Now because this is the smaller part of your lungs (see diagram) and closer to your heart, its easier to get air in and out of them and into the body, (the path of least resistance). This gives you rapid, short breaths.
This may also be a large contributor to pain around the neck, trapezius, intercostals (the muscles between the ribs) and side cramps.

The minus? - Your chest can only expand out so much, so you end up not filling up the entire lungs with air, and with rapid, short breaths the body isn't getting enough oxygen which causes more panting and rapid short breaths. 

What Happens when you're a Belly Breather? 

    - The Diaphragm and abdomen muscles expand out to allow more room in the lower chest cavity, which allows air to flow deep-down into the lower part of your lungs, (see diagram) the large part of the lungs.

   - Have you noticed that when you Inhale deeply, when you pause, you can still inhale more air.  The same goes with the reverse. When you exhale deeply you can still exhale more air out by compressing your muscles.  How does the body do this? Because there is a lot of "hidden" air deep into the lower pockets of your lungs. It is this part of the lungs you want to engage while you run. 

What's The Benefit? You draw in more air into your lungs, therefore more Oxygen into your body. Also you draw in air slower therefore letting your body get more fresh air and increase its VO2 Max.

I still am not a natural belly breather. I have to force myself to remember to belly breathe and expand out my belly with each breath. But I hope with more practice, it will come more naturally. 

Happy Running and Belly breathing. 


  1. Interesting...I'll have to try that!

  2. informative ....thanks....

  3. You keep your mojo and your money, and I'll get your oxygen...

    I'm thicker than you. I'm higher in the density chain. Get in my belly!

  4. I always thought I was strange for belly breathing since nearly everyone I know is a chest breather! I also happen to be a mouth breather (childhood full of sinus issues), so breathing through my mouth makes me naturally expand my belly. Good to know it's not 'weird' but just another way to do it!

  5. Midassa, I'm a little envious, hehe :) I hope that I can get better at belly breathing.

  6. Do you know what's worse than being a chest breather?-Being a bad breath breather.