Breathing is something the body does voluntarily and involuntarily, and it can influence blood pressure, heart rate and circulation. Using proper breathing techniques can help athletes not only to breathe better, but also to maintain a consistent level of breathing during training, thus improving endurance.
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The practice of yoga can help extreme endurance athletes build proper breathing techniques, mental calm and focus, benefiting their overall athletic ability. Pranayama is the breathing technique taught in yoga and is considered to be the “control of energy,” according to the Yoga Journal website. The goal of pranayama is to breathe consciously and evenly, making every inhale and exhale the same. The idea is to guide your breathing so it is smooth and steady to increase the quality of your breathing.
Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as abdominal breathing, is breathing from your abdomen as opposed to your chest. As your abdomen expands and your diaphragm contracts, air is forced into your lungs, according to the American Medical Student Association. This type of breathing is important for endurance as it pulls blood into your chest and improves heart function, blood flow and stamina. To practice diaphragmatic breathing, place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Your stomach should rise higher than your chest when you take a deep breath and is indicative of abdominal breathing. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose and hold it for a count of 7. Exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of 8. As you do, concentrate on your abdominal muscles to completely empty your lungs.
The Buteyko method of breathing teaches how to breathe through your nose instead of your mouth. The Russian doctor who designed the method determined that many people over-breathe, or breathe too much. He developed a method that teaches taking smaller, higher-quality breaths. To practice, take a small breath in and a small breath out. On the exhale, hold your nose and count how long you can comfortably hold your breath. Before you need to take a deep breath, release your nose and take a small breath in. The longer you can comfortably hold your breath without needing a large intake of air, the better control you have of your breathing. The more control over your breathing, the less likely you are to become breathless, thus increasing your endurance.
The Papworth method of breathing is a series of exercises for breathing and relaxation. The method is designed to help control your breathing while reducing inappropriate breathing habits, according to the Physorg website. Diaphragmatic breathing is part of the Papworth method, encouraging nose breathing over mouth breathing. The method also helps to develop a breathing pattern that is suitable for endurance training or any other particular activity.