How to Breathe Properly While Running & Playing Soccer

Breathing is automatic, but physical stress can overwhelm your body, causing you to adopt unhealthy breathing patterns. Particularly when you run, you may end up hyperventilating, holding your breath for long intervals or breathing at an erratic rate. This can cause rapid muscle fatigue, especially if your muscles are already in overdrive kicking a soccer ball.

Focusing on your breathing when you run or play sports requires some effort. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Proper Inhalation and Exhalation

When you exercise, your body produces more carbon dioxide, so it's important to exhale this carbon dioxide to keep the oxygen balance in your body at healthy levels. Consequently, your exhalations should be about as long as your inhalations. One method is to count your breaths, but this can be distracting when you're playing sports. Instead, try breathing out slowly and steadily rather than quickly blowing out all your air.

Coordinating Your Movements

Another excellent way to ensure you're breathing properly is to coordinate your breaths with your movements to find the right inhalation-to-exhalation ratio. Try taking a breath in every time you take two steps, then exhaling it for two steps. As you build aerobic endurance, you'll be able to take longer breaths, so graduate to three, then four steps that last for the length of your breaths. When you exert effort, such as when you're kicking a ball, exhale.

Stomach Breathing

You'll gain better access to oxygen if you take deep breaths through your diaphragm. Instead of allowing your chest to expand, your stomach should expand with each inhalation. This encourages slow, deliberate breathing and can prevent hyperventilation. When you exhale, contract your stomach muscles to push the air out.

Mouth Versus Nose

You can take in more air through your mouth, so if you feel like you're struggling to get enough oxygen, open your mouth and inhale this way. Exhale through your nose. Doing so can also help to slightly slow down the rate of your exhalations, making it easier to breathe slowly and deliberately.

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