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Sports Breathing Techniques

author image Jessica Owens
Based in Denver, Jessica Owens is a yoga teacher and a writer. She began writing in college for the school newspaper and currently writes for online publications about health and wellness. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hamilton College in 2009.
Sports Breathing Techniques
Practice a 3:2 rhythmic breathing count for an easy to moderate running pace. Photo Credit Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images

Breathing techniques change depending on the sport and can make a huge difference in the quality of your athletic pursuit. For example, running, yoga and swimming all have different techniques you can use to maximize performance. By employing sports breathing techniques, you can increase your speed, endurance and strength, and improve the overall quality of your workout.

Breathing Techniques for Running

According to some experts, following a 3:2 rhythmic breathing technique can help you manage the effort of running, build stamina and disperse the impact stress of running, which over time puts a lot of strain on your hips flexors and joints. With a 3:2 count, you inhale for three steps and exhale for two steps. The 3:2 count trains you to alternate your exhale from right foot to left foot as you’re running. By alternating your exhale between your left and right foot, you disperse the impact stress of running. The reason for this is because with every exhalation your core muscles relax, making you less stable than if you had a tight core and placing greater impact on the foot you land on. It is better to disperse the impact evenly between both sides of your body. You can experiment with your rhythmic breathing to find a count that works best for you.

Breathing Techniques for Yoga

In many styles of yoga, your teacher will instruct you to activate your Ujjayi breathing. To do this, close your mouth and breath in and out through your nose. Constrict the back of your throat and breathe into the back of your throat, creating an audible breath. Slow down and deepen your breath, feeling your low belly expand and diaphragm lift. Ujjayi breathing technique helps you create heat in your body, which loosens your muscles so that you can stretch deeper. It also helps you bring your attention inward making your yoga practice a moving meditation.

Breathing Techniques for Swimming

Focusing on proper breathing technique can help you cultivate a symmetrical swimming stroke. The first thing you can do is to exhale completely when you're underwater. This creates less stress for you when you have to inhale above water. Next, keep your head still and only turn your head to breathe in. This will improve your overall coordination. Do not lift your head to breathe in. There should be a pocket of air by your head that is slightly lower than the water level because your head pushes the water away. You should also rotate your body as you swim so that you will not have to rotate your head as much. Finally, breathe bilaterally, or on both sides, to create a balance in your stroke.

Breathing Techniques for all Sports

For all sports, it is important to breathe deeply rather than take shallow breaths. To breathe deeply, you should feel the breath originate in your low abdomen, your diaphragm lift and your lungs expand. Breathing deeply oxygenates your muscles so they can work harder, build strength and move faster. After you learn to breathe deeply, the challenge is to feel comfortable with the breathing rhythm that is optimal for the sport you are doing, whether it's running, swimming, yoga, or any other physical activity.

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