Rhythmic breathing plays a crucial role in keeping runners injury-free if they know how to practice it regularly. Inhaling air into the lungs takes more time and effort than exhaling, as the diaphragm actively pushes air out. Rhythmic breathing heightens awareness of the need for longer inhalations to supply the oxygen necessary for high-intensity exercise. To understand how this works, it’s essential first to grasp what causes stress during running. When a runner’s foot strikes the ground, the impact force can be two to three times their body weight. The peak of this stress occurs when the foot lands on the ground at the beginning of an exhalation. This happens because, during exhalation, the diaphragm and its associated muscles relax, reducing stability within the core of your body.
Rhythmic breathing coordinates foot strikes with inhalations and exhalations in an odd-even pattern. This means runners alternate landing on their right and left foot at the start of each exhalation, equally distributing the stress of running across both sides of the body. Renowned running coach Budd Coates, in his book ‘Runner’s World Running on Air,’ explains a simple yet revolutionary training method based on rhythmic breathing. This method helps runners of all kinds improve their performance, prevent injury, and achieve their best results. Coates validates this approach with a blend of scientific insights, Eastern philosophy, and evidence from test subjects. By focusing on their breath, runners were able to bring their minds and bodies into harmony, enabling them to run better, faster, and more robustly. In ‘Runner’s World Running on Air,’ readers can find explanations of the fundamentals of rhythmic breathing and practical instructions on how to incorporate it into their workouts with week-long training modules designed for various types of runs.