Breathing is a natural part of our everyday lives and as expectant mums we are taught to control our breathing to help with labour and childbirth.
Following the birth of our little ones many of us want to get fit again & venture into running, quickly finding ourselves out of puff! So, how can we learn to breathe more easily & improve our overall running performance?
Follow these 4 simple steps to achieving better running economy through breathing:
1. Breathe in through your mouth. By inhaling through your mouth as you run, not only are you more likely to get more air into your lungs, it also encourages your face to relax, helping you breathe more deeply.
2. Train your tummy mummy! Your Diaphragm and Intercostal muscles (muscles between the ribs) subconsciously work to help you breathe consistently throughout the day. However, like any muscles they can be trained to work more effectively, especially during an exercise like running, where you breathe harder for longer. In fact simply learning to breathe more deeply through abdominal breathing, can help your running economy and tone your tummy. In addition, daily kegels and core strengthening exercises will help.
3. Stride & Glide. Try co-ordinating your breathing with your foot strike as you run. Work out which is your dominant foot and each time it touches the ground either breathe in or out. Start with a pattern of breathing every two strides (i.e, breathe in on right, left, then out on right, left) then every 3 right, left, right & eventually to every 4 strides, right, left, right, left.
4. Relax. Relaxing your running style can ease muscular tension and allow you to adopt a much smoother, flowing and less resisted running style. Running with overly tight muscles can waste energy and reduce power (much like driving a car with the handbrake left on!). Adopting a more relaxed stance, such as lowering the arms and allowing them to swing in a front/back motion from the shoulder, helps you focus on a more comfortable breathing rate.
Post Natal women must complete a six-week GP check (8-12 weeks for Caesarean) prior to gradually re-commencing their exercise programme.
It is not advisable to start a running programme until 16 weeks post natal at which time advice from your qualified post natal fitness professional should be sought.