Nasal breathing for martial arts
This month I would like to talk about breathing and in particular breathing through the nose while performing our martial arts. Many of us will not even be aware of the fact that we are continually breathing in and out through the mouth and only partially and occasionally through the nose. Why is this so important?
People who are tuned into their own bodies more and those who watch top sports athletes will notice that top sports people will breathe through their noses a lot more than their mouths. Roger Federer a top tennis player for many years will almost always keep his mouth closed during competitions. When watching high level runners the thing you notice is how effortless they make it look when running. This is attributed to far greater nose breathing than by breathing through the mouth.
The process of breathing while performing any martial arts is to utilise the oxygen as efficiently as possible by taking more oxygen into the muscles while still keeping carbon dioxide levels low.
Patrick McKeown notes:
“…nose breathing results in a 10 to 20 percent greater oxygen uptake in the blood. “When you breathe, your lungs exchange and metabolize oxygen and carbon dioxide (CO2). During exercise, your body uses more oxygen, so the concentration of oxygen in the blood drops.
“The increased muscle activity and metabolic rate mean you produce more carbon dioxide. What will normally happen is that your breathing speeds up relative to your CO2 production — CO2 leaves the body in expired air — so your blood carbon dioxide levels shouldn’t change much.
“However, if your CO2 levels become too high, the speed and volume of breathing will increase and heart rate becomes faster. All of this makes it quite hard to continue training. Therefore, your ability to sustain physical exercise is directly related to your blood sensitivity to CO2.”
The athletes adapted to nasal breathing by increasing their tolerance to CO2 without losing peak performance.
The aim is simple; train yourself to nasal breathe while doing hard exercise and you will be able to exercise for longer and expend less energy. We have all seen that when fighters get tired they start breathing out heavy through their mouths so learning to keep your breathing nasal will really pay off. The nose also adds moisture and warmth to inhaled air for smoother entry to the lungs. Nasal breathing, as opposed to mouth breathing, has another important advantage, especially for effective and efficient exercise: It can allow for more oxygen to get to active tissues.
The idea of nose breathing is not new but your whole body can change if you predominantly breathe through the mouth this is called (MBS) Mouth breathing syndrome. I am not going to be too technical here so I won’t go too deep into MBS but you can do your own research on it.
Breathing through your nose sounds easy but the test is when you start doing heavy aerobic exercise and then it is like you trying to breathe through a straw while running a marathon. After a few months of being conscious of breathing through your nose you will find that you will breathe more efficiently. You will take less breathes to achieve better results.
Breathing through the nose also helps remove a significant share of germs, irritants and bacteria from each lungful of air you breathe. It’s easier to breathe regularly when you inhale and exhale through your nose.
Another person I really love is Wim Hof he has some fantastic breathing exercises on you tube or you can go to his website.
Keep well everyone and I hope you found this article useful.