Breathing tips for new runners courtesy of Runners World

Breathing tips for new runners courtesy of Runners World

If you are new to running, building up your ability to breathe may seem impossible at first, however, with a little patience, you will be running your 5k in no time. To assist you in this process, Runners World magazine offers some helpful tips so you can join the millions of runners who are enjoying running successfully.

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Breathing Tips for New Runners

How to breathe while running to avoid exhaustion and side stitches.

By Susan Paul Published June 13, 2013

Hi! I’m a new runner and I’m experiencing a problem with controlling my breathing. Though I don’t feel any soreness or pain in my legs, in about 200 meters, it gets incredibly hard to breathe. It feels like my lungs are resisting the air, and no matter how deep I breathe it isn’t enough. I’ve also had problems with side stitches when I breathe too deep.

I want to ask if it’s normal because it didn’t get any better since I started. Will it go away in time? Or is there anything I can do to get myself breathing easier?

I hope you can answer my question. Thanks in advance!

Dear Runner-

Breathing problems and side stitches are a common complaint among many runners, especially new runners. If you are having problems breathing, it’s always wise to consult with your health care professional first to rule out any medical issues. Asthma or exercise-induced asthma and allergies are very common, so when you feel you can’t catch your breath, if you cannot inhale or exhale productively, if you experience any wheezing, or other symptoms that are uncomfortable or concern you, please check with your doctor.

Side stitches are generally considered to be a muscle spasm of the diaphragm, a muscle associated with breathing. More specifically, they are probably a spasm of the ligaments that support the diaphragm. The symptom runners typically report is a sharp pain on their right side, immediately below the ribs.

The diaphragm is a muscle that assists in breathing and it has two supporting ligaments. The action of the diaphragm muscle is much like an accordion. When we inhale, we move air into the lungs, and the diaphragm moves down. Conversely, when we exhale, we move air out of the lungs, and the diaphragm moves up. Like other muscle cramps or spasms, diaphragm spasms or side stitches are thought to occur from the strain and fatigue associated with the increased workload of accelerated breathing from exercise. The good news is that all muscle spasms are thought to be associated with muscle fatigue, so as your fitness level and overall conditioning improves, the risk of muscle fatigue decreases, which means that the incidence of side stitches decrease as well.

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