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2923 Views 14 Replies Latest reply: Apr 2, 2005 6:48 AM by andywiers RSS
TAN90Z Rookie 5 posts since
Jul 9, 2007
Currently Being Moderated

Mar 17, 2005 6:36 AM

Nose Breathing

A friend swears that strictly incorporating nose breathing (closed mouth) while training is a far more efficient way to deliver oxygen to the lungs.  He also says it prevents one from going out too fast in a race (which I can certainly understand).  Can anybody confirm that what this guy says is true?

  • vumcrtb Rookie 1 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    1. Mar 22, 2005 4:56 PM (in response to TAN90Z)
    Re: Nose Breathing

    Quote from http://shop.store.yahoo.com/webmountainbike/breattecandt.html

    "NASAL OR MOUTH BREATHING are usually your two options, and most people have a favored technique. Nasal breathers will have less capacity in general, and may find encumberances due to stuffy sinuses, nasal congestion, or occlusion of the nasal passage by deposits in their passage. Mouth breathers will have increased ability to move air rapidly, and obtain a higher level of oxygenation. Some may do both. Next time you ride, think about this factor. It is possible that some riders may improve their breathing noticeably by using the nasal strips used on the bridge of their nose to keep their nostrils more open, similar to those used by some NFL athletes. Make sure that you apply them before you start to sweat, or they will not adhere well to your nose."

     

    I tend to use both mouth and nose when I run, just to get more air into my lungs.

     

    BTW People tell you all kind of things that they think are true; you can ignore 99% of them.

     

    Re: Nose Breathing

  • banuelos33 Rookie 3 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
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    2. Mar 20, 2005 10:42 PM (in response to TAN90Z)
    Re: Nose Breathing

    I tend to just go with what my body needs.  I've been told to breath in thu my nose and out my mouth, etc.  I find that when I'm in "my zone", I take short breaths in (2-3) thru my mounth and one long slow one out my nose.  At times it's almost rhythmic.  I say, go with what you need,  if it's long deeps breath in thru your mouth, then do that, but you might want to slow your running pace... unless your sprinting in to the finish.  Happy running; and breathing.

  • miked520 Rookie 5 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
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    3. Mar 22, 2005 6:39 AM (in response to TAN90Z)
    Re: Nose Breathing

    I agree with banuelos33.....Just do what feels right for you.  There is no right or wrong way to breathe!

  • jurbanek Rookie 3 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    4. Mar 24, 2005 5:04 AM (in response to TAN90Z)
    Re: Nose Breathing

    A friend swears that strictly incorporating nose

    breathing (closed mouth) while training is a far more

    efficient way to deliver oxygen to the lungs.  He

    also says it prevents one from going out too fast in

    a race (which I can certainly understand).  Can

    anybody confirm that what this guy says is true?

     

    There is always the danger of hyperventilating if you strictly breathe through the nose -- especially with a strenuous activity like running  -- nose breathing helps get me focused before a run -- but during? I think if you can breathe through both mouth and nose the better.

  • Karllaw Rookie 1 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    5. Mar 24, 2005 6:43 AM (in response to TAN90Z)
    Re: Nose Breathing

    This may elevate this discussion far beyond what the slack jawed mouth breathers (above) are capable of intuiting, but there was an excellant book by a runner named John Douillard called "Body, Mind and Sport" which detailed the benefits of ujjayi pranayama breathing for stress reduction, rejuvenation and efficiency in sport.  This type of breathing, if practiced and used, allows the athlete to use the entire capacity of the lungs, rather than the more limited mouth breathing.  There are other benefits, as well in terms of athletic performance.  The bottom line, except in sprints, it is best to breath through the nose once the proper technic is learned.

  • MauriceV Rookie 1 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
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    6. Mar 24, 2005 7:17 AM (in response to TAN90Z)
    Re: Nose Breathing

    And I presume this favorite oddball...er..em... yoga master is a world champion runner, eh?

     

    As for the friend who "swears that...nose breathing (closed mouth)... is a far more efficient way to deliver oxygen to the lungs." I'm curious to know the mechanism by which it is supposedly "more efficient".

     

    Think of the lungs and diaphragm as a pump. When the pump is working at maximum efficiency, it pumps a maximal amount of air. Explain to me how reducing the size of the intake (nose and mouth) helps it accomplish that. If it were true that reducing the size of the intake aided the pump in its quest for maximum efficiency, then race car drivers should opt for SMALLER air intakes in their engines. Somehow, though, they all install BIGGER ones.

     

    The body is a pretty decent machine that works pretty well by instinct (e.g. injecting adrenaline into the system when fight or flight may be required, etc.). When the heart and lungs fails to obtain enough air to support the current level of activity, the mouth opens automatically.

    Willfully closing it at that point interferes with efficient breathing and reduces one's performance, pure and simple.

  • ozziegontang Rookie 15 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007

    Nose Breathing

    © 1997, 2005 Austin  "Ozzie" Gontang, Ph.D.

     

    Breathing through the nose on the inhalation:

    1. Warms the air

    2. Moisturizes the air

    3. Purifies the air

     

    When the nose smells some pleasing aroma, the nostrils flair.  Look in the mirror and as you breathe in flair the nostrils.  Many people when breathing in through the nose, allow the nostrils to be sucked semi-closed by the pressure of the inhalation.  Practice the nostril flair so that there is no sniffling sound on the in breath.

     

    The brain is not playing any tricks.  The brain that will die without oxygen within minutes, is not playing.  The brain (which as most of us know is an integral part of our being) is afraid of dying. So when it is not getting what it considers sufficient nourishment of O2, it will every and any orifice to get enough air to survive and get back to its comfort level.

     

    When one is having difficulty getting air, the body may and often goes into a panic mode.  In that mode, the breathing cycle is reversed That is on the inhalation the stomach muscles contract and relax on the exhalation.  That is the reverse of inhalation/abdominals relax/diaphragm contract and exhalation/abdominals contract/diaphragm relax.  Often the stitch is due to the diaphragm working against the muscles that should be relaxing on the inhalation.

     

    The art of nose breathing takes running slower at first until the mind knows that it is not being suffocated by nose breathing.  During a run nose breathe when running slower so as to keep the mind relaxed.  At first it may only be 50 to 100 yards.  By gradual practice, I know several people, one who has done a 3:17 through the nose and another a half in a sub 90.  Both started from the fear of not getting enough air.  They practiced and played with it. 

     

    Wonder what the world records for nose breathing at all the various distances are?

     

    In an article I wrote for the San Diego Track Club back in the early 80's I wrote about the Mescalero Apaches who trained their kids to run 5 or 6 miles with a mouth full of water.  When the crossed the finish line after 5 or 6 miles of running they had to spit the mouthful of water out.

     

    Everyone then was focusing on the great effort not to swallow the water and the great amount of self-discipline demonstrated by these children.  I took it the next step beyond the holding water in your mouth for "x" miles.  To do so, one could only breathe through their nose.

     

    I mentioned also that one soccer coach got his kids to hold a mouthful of water as they played, saying that they wouldn't have to stop for a drink of water so often.  The kids enjoyed the suggestion as they played soccer.

     

    For me the issue was not the water in the mouth, the issue was: "with water in the mouth, one has to nose breathe.

     

    And so I began several years of playing and practicing nose breathing.  My fastest through the nose marathon was a 3:27.  That was breathing in and out through the nose.  Jerry Goldberg another friend who I got to play with nose breathing did an 84:04 half marathon through the nose.  As Jerry said to me a few months ago, there are some things you don't forget.

     

     

    A related article you may find interesting.  It is probably more than you wanted to know or even think about...let alone practice.  Oz

    Google: "A Guide To Breathing Patterns and Rhythms"

     

    A Dialogue on Breathing: Some science to aid in what we often know intuitively.

    C.2001 Austin "Ozzie" Gontang, Ph.D., Patrick  Aro, and Andrew Heiz

     

     

    Thanks to Andrew and Patrick for creating the opporutnity to gain a better understanding and some scientific information about the role of nasal breathing:

     

    Ozzie Gontang made an assumptive statement wrote:

    >

    >

    Breathing through the nose on the inhalation:

          1. Warms the air

          2. Moisturizes the air

          3. Purifies the air

     

    Andrew rightfully queried:

     

    Please explain all the scientific facts behind these statements!

     

     

    Patrick responded from the text on Body Structures and Functions:

     

    "Protruding into the nasal cavity are three turbinate, or nasal conchae bones.  These three scroll-like bones (superior, middle, and inferior concha) divide the large nasal cavity in three narrow passageways.  The turbinates increase the surface area of the nasal cavity causing turbulence in the flowing air.  This causes the air to move in various directions before exiting the nasal cavity.  As it moves through the nasal cavity, air is being filtered of dust and dirt particles by the mucous membranes lining the conchal and nasal cavity.  The air is also moistened by the mucus and by blood vessels which supply the nasal cavity ... by the time air reaches the lungs, it has been warmed, moistened, and filtered." (Scott and Fong, Body Structures and Functions 9th ed., 1997)

     

     

    Andrew continued his query

     

    How can you say that nose breathing moisturizes the air? Again the argument can be made that since there is more saliva in your mouth than snot in your nose the air coming in through your mouth is in contact with more moisture.

     

    But beyond either of these arguments what is the role of moisturizing air in exercise breathing. And how much moisturization is necessary?

     

    Patrick responds using:

     

    Author(s):       Godfrey, Richard.

    Title:           The nose and the lower airways.

    Source:          Lancet (North American edition) v. 343 (Apr. 23 '94) p. 991-2

     

    Abstract:       "The role of the nose and lower airways in respiration is examined. The nose can increase the temperature of inspired air by as much as 25(degree)C between external nares and nasopharynx; this is because of

    the nose's rich blood supply with plentiful arteriovenous anastomoses. The lower airways are poor at warming and humidifying air in comparison with the nose, and bronchoconstriction may result from the temporary development of hyperosmolarity in their walls..."

     

    Author(s):      Morton AR et al.

    Title:  Comparison of maximal oxygen consumption with oral and nasal breathing.

    Source: Aust J Sci Med Sport (AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF SCIENCE AND MEDICINE IN SPORT) 1995 Sep; 27 (3): 51-5 Journal Code: B9S

     

    Abstract:      " The major cause of exercise-induced asthma (EIA) is thought to be the drying and cooling of the airways during the 'conditioning' of the inspired air. Nasal breathing increases the respiratory system's ability to warm and humidi[fy] the inspired air compared to oral breathing and reduces the drying and cooling effects of

    the increased ventilation during exercise. This will reduce the severity of EIA provoked by a given intensity and duration of exercise. The purpose of the study was to determine the exercise intensity (%VO2 max) at which healthy subjects, free from respiratory disease, could perform while breathing through the nose-only and to compare this with mouth-only and mouth plus nose breathing."

     

    This study found only a 3% difference in tidal volume (the volume of air inhaled and exhaled in one cycle) between nasal only and mouth only breathing during exercise.  Average tidal volume is about 500 ml, so the difference works out to be about 15 ml.  Since the residual volume, the amount of air that cannot be voluntarily expelled from the lungs, is about 1500 ml allowing continuous exchange of gasses between breaths, the 15 ml difference seems to be physiologically insignificant.  Granted, the study did not research the ability or inability of an athlete to reach peak performance while nasal only breathing, however, it strongly suggests that there are benefits to nasal only or a combination of nasal and mouth breathing.

     

     

    Andrew finally adds:

     

    And the fact of the matter is there comes a point that breathing in through the nose is not enough. So sooner or later the mouth is going to have the last word (excuse the pun). Or if it doesn't then performance will be at a reduced rate.

     

     

    Patrick concludes:

     

    Yes, I agree.  There is a level of exertion that seems to call for additional or alternative routes of inhalation.  However, the study above demonstrated that a recreational runner can achieve and sustain the "fat burning zone" by nose only breathing.  ExcUSE the pun?  I'd much rather USE one.

     

    As others have suggested and you have already done, experiment with it.  If it doesn't work for you, well that's just one more piece of knowledge gained.

     

    Sorry for droning.

     

    Peace as Well,

    Patrick

     

    Ozzie adds:

     

    Thank you Andrew and Patrick for a lovely and informative dialogue where we all learned a great deal about breathing through the nose and mouth, the benefits of nasal breathing, and the power and the spirit of collegiality when it comes to educating ourselves. 

     

    As Andrew and Patrick have shown so well, don't assume anything.  Even the best of science when more information and research are done has been proved to be incorrect because we didn't know what we know now.  So Science, from the Latin meaning knowledge, keeps on growing.  And with it the amazing aquisitive and inquisitive minds of rec.running.

     

    Rec.running while containing some great info has also been overrun by trolls.

     

    In health and on the run,

     

    Ozzie Gontang

    gontang@electriciti.com

    Maintainer - rec.running FAQ

    http://www.faqs.org/faqs/by-newsgroup/rec/rec.running.html

    Director, San Diego Marathon Clinic, est. 1975

     

    Mindful Running http://www.mindfulness.com/mr.asp

  • thanks11945 Rookie 1 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    8. Mar 24, 2005 9:36 AM (in response to TAN90Z)
    Re: Nose Breathing

    As the information given shows, the advantages to breathing in through the nose are easy to see.  Anyone who has taken a deep breath on a freezing day can testify to the benefits of warming the air before it hits the lungs.  A major advantage not previously discussed is preventing dry/cotton mouth and dry or sore throats from the higher volume than normal exchange of air.  For many runners, especially beginners, dry mouth discomfort is a major problem.  As with most issues, however, breathing doesn't have to be one way or the other.  I have found that inhaling through the nose gives all of the previously mentioned benefits, while exhaling forcefully through the mouth (blowing hard on the exhale) helps to quickly fully evacuate the lungs and brings in more fresh air on the inhale cycle.  This is, I believe, consistent with the yoga breathing technique mentioned.

     

    Geogrpahic location and weather can effect the ability to breathe in through the nose.  In Florida, the combination of humidity and pollen restricts airflow through the nasal passages for me, but that clears up once warmed up and on pace as your body overcomes the reaction causing the congestion.  You can even run with a cold breathing through the nose because if you keep going your body assumes you need to be running and kicks into overdrive to open the sinuses until you quit.  In California, I don't have that problem because it is drier and there are fewer irritants in the air where I live.  Runners in L.A. or Riverside may experience a difference due to air quality.  One 10k in very low temperatures my nose essentially froze shut for the first four miles.  You adapt to the changing conditions, but as I said, I find that inhaling through the nose and blowing out forcefully through the mouth gives me the best airflow and rhythm while running.

  • espi335 Amateur 35 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    9. Mar 24, 2005 2:44 PM (in response to TAN90Z)
    Re: Nose Breathing

    The article posted on this topic was informative, but I could never inhale and exhale through the nose. It just feels too constricting.  Thus, I'd recommend breathing whichever way is most comfortable.

  • ginaslp Rookie 1 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    10. Mar 24, 2005 11:13 PM (in response to TAN90Z)
    Re: Nose Breathing

    This is entertaining! 

     

    Just to clarify, when you are running with your mouth open, I believe you are either inhaling through your nose or your mouth; you cannot inhale through both at the exact same time.  When you inhale through your nose, you lower your soft palate to the base of your tongue to allow the air to pass through your airway and not escape through your mouth.  When you inhale through your mouth, you raise your soft palate to close off the entrance to your nasal passage.  Unless you have a hole in your soft palate (i.e a cleft), you cannot inhale through both your mouth and nose at the same time. 

     

    You can alternate pretty rapidly between the two, which I don't recommend as I just tried it and am feeling a bit light-headed now.

  • ozziegontang Rookie 15 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    11. Mar 25, 2005 7:29 AM (in response to TAN90Z)
    Re: Nose Breathing

    To show you're breathing in through your nose and mouth, breathe in with mouth open and then put your hand over your mouth midbreathe and  you continue to inhale.

     

    Ozzie Gontang

    gontang@electriciti.com

    Maintainer - rec.running FAQ

    http://www.faqs.org/faqs/by-newsgroup/rec/rec.running.html

    Director, San Diego Marathon Clinic, est. 1975

     

    Mindful Running http://www.mindfulness.com/mr.asp

  • AllanHoltz Rookie 6 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    12. Mar 25, 2005 1:23 PM (in response to TAN90Z)
    Re: Nose Breathing

    A few years ago, yoga expert Justin O'Brien, I think he goes by a Himilayan name now, came to speak to the 3M Club Running Club.  He primarily spoke about the subject of his book "Running & Breathing".  He supports nasal breathing at the ratio of 1:2, i.e. you inhale twice as fast as you exhale.  For him, when he wrote the book, he would inhale 3 steps and exhale 6 steps while running about 7 minute miles, which he comfortably could do for an hour.  He was not a marathoner or ultramarathoner, so an hour was his boredom limit, not his physical limit for this method.

     

    He claims you more completely empty the lungs by maintaining the 1:2 ratio and that by bringing all of your exhaled air through the nose that special detectors in the nose respond to the higher CO2 level toward the end of the exhalation and trigger other body systems to better break down lactic acid, thereby reducing fatigue and speeding recovery.

     

    He claimed to have taught his methods to a Pennsylvannia high school girls cross country team.  They used this technique during both training and events and won the state championship that year.  Maybe they simply had very talented girls that year - I don't know.  But most bystanders seemed to notice those girls seemed much more relaxed immediately after the event than did the other competitors.

     

    Off and on I have practised his breathing technique and I find I do get more internally focused and more meditative during my runs if I do that style of breathing.  I also notice a 1-4 BPM higher heart rate at the same conditions when breathing that way.  For that test I recently ran one day breathing through my mouth without paying any attention to my inhalation-exhalation footstep pattern on a treadmill at 2% slope at 6 mph for one hour and the next day I ran for an hour at the same time-slope-speed on the same treadmill only breathing exclusively through my nose and periodically checking my footstrike as 4 steps inhale and 8 steps exhale.  Heartrate was 116-120 from 30-60 minutes with mouth breathing and 120-124 during the same time period breathing through the nose.

     

    Whether that means I was working harder to get air in through my nose leading to the higher heartrate, or whether my nose, responding to a higher CO2 level was triggering my heart to pump faster to remove waste products, I don't know.

     

    I've never used the method long enough to really see if I became a better runner breathing nasally or not.  And I'm one of those ultramaniacs, i.e. multiple 100s in one year.  Last weekend I ran a 50 miler Saturday and a marathon on Sunday.

  • mch_04262003 Amateur 11 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    13. Mar 25, 2005 8:26 PM (in response to TAN90Z)
    Re: Nose Breathing

    HEHE. This is a complete myth. It depends on the way you regulate your breathing. Once you stop focusing on the breathing and think about something else (for me anyway) it just falls into place. For example, I don't run as fast if I focus on running. It is different for everyone. It will come with time. Get to know your body.

  • andywiers Rookie 1 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    14. Apr 2, 2005 6:48 AM (in response to TAN90Z)
    Re: Nose Breathing

    Thanks to both Karllaw and Ozzie for there very well versed responses.

     

    In response to Andrews question of why is humidifying the air important (which is a valid one)there is also another area of significance and that is the ultimate goal of respiration, to increase oxygenation of the blood.  To do so one must look at the cellular level. Respiratory gas exchange occurs at the alveolar level, and in order for proper gaseous exchange to occur the alveoli must remain moist, or else gaseous exchange is limited. Thus a lower humidity of the air taken in to the lungs will decrease the efficiency of gaseous exchange (O2 in and CO2 out) and thus decrease the efficiency of the body. 

     

    And in response to Maurice, people with closed or narrow minds are often incorrect in their believes because they are too self centered to think that there might be a better way then THEIR WAY.

    The following are excerpts from his post

     

    "And I presume this favorite oddball...er..em... yoga master is a world champion runner, eh? "

     

    "Think of the lungs and diaphragm as a pump. When the pump is working at maximum efficiency, it pumps a maximal amount of air. Explain to me how reducing the size of the intake (nose and mouth) helps it accomplish that. If it were true that reducing the size of the intake aided the pump in its quest for maximum efficiency, then race car drivers should opt for SMALLER air intakes in their engines. Somehow, though, they all install BIGGER ones.(MauriceV)"

     

    Now this, MIGHT hold some truth if the lungs and diaphragms purpose was to function as a pump, but most people who remember even grade school biology know that this is not the case. The function of the lungs is not to pump air in an out as efficiently as possible but the function of the lungs is to exchange the maximum amount of O2 into the blood stream while exchanging the maximum of CO2 out of the blood stream. Proper nose breathing technique (that Karllaw is refered to "ujjayi pranayama breathing ")albeit difficult to learn and master promotes much more efficient gaseous exchange and therefore better athletic performance. 

     

    "The body is a pretty decent machine that works pretty well by instinct (e.g. injecting adrenaline into the system when fight or flight may be required, etc.). When the heart and lungs fails to obtain enough air to support the current level of activity, the mouth opens automatically.

    Willfully closing it at that point interferes with efficient breathing and reduces one's performance, pure and simple. (MauriceV) "

     

    I probably shouldn't even say this but before you begin to post and give advice, must less scoff at someone else's message I would seriously try to learn something about the area which you are talking about so you dont end up looking like a fool. 

     

    Its not about air its about O2 and CO2, that's how the cardiovascular system and its chemoreceptors function. Proper breathing allows for maximum gaseous exchange and maximum efficiency. By utilizing proper breathing technique I have a resting respiratory rate between 4-6 breaths per minute.  The average is 14-20, you tell me which is more efficient.

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