Nose breathing to improve performance

 Take a deep breath. Go on. Big breath. There you go. Did you breathe through your mouth? Think about when you exercise or workout. Do you see yourself breathing through your mouth? Did you know that breathing through your nose is not only more effective but improves performance and wellbeing. Let’s talk about why….

The Myth

We’ve been sold a lie. Images of athletes working out in the gym, pushing harder and harder. Panting like Beethoven on a hot summers day. Breathing through our mouths.

But did you know that true functional breathing is done through the nose.

When Eliud Kipchoge broke the 2 hour record for the marathon, did you notice how he was breathing after he crossed the finish line?

If you didn’t, he was breathing through his nose. Now if you’re like everyone else you would expect to be drawing in air from every possible hole given to you, but he wasn’t. Having just put in a last bit of effort to fly over the finish line, he was breathing through his nose.

So seriously…

How has a guy just run a sub 2 hour marathon and not been breathing out his mouth?

Functional breathing that’s how…


Nose vs Mouth

Quite simply, noses are form breathing, mouths are for eating. The nose and the nasal cavity were designed for breathing, with hair cells that clean the air (removing particles), warm and moisten the air for entry into the lungs and releases Nitric Oxide (vasodilator) – which we’ll get on to.

The nose is ultimately built for the purpose of breathing, yet we go to mouth breathing far too early in our athletic work.

The Benefits of Nasal Breathing

Here we’ll look into the benefits of breathing through the nose compared to breathing through the mouth.

Diaphragmatic breathing

Breathing through the nose firstly promotes diaphragmatic breathing. The diaphragm is a muscle that sits below the ribcage that is directly in charge of drawing air into the lungs. When it contracts, it flattens and increase the space in the lungs that draws air in, when it relaxs air is expelled from the lungs.

Nose breathing promotes the use of the the diaphragm. The more you breathe through your nose the more you strengthen the diaphragm. Compared to Mouth breathing which is associated with upper chest breathing (dysfunctional breathing).

Try it quick: Notice in your chest where you breathe from when only breathing through your nose. Do 3 breaths then switch to breathing through your mouth. Did you notice the difference?

50% harder

This might seem countintutive but the nose being a more restricted space compared than the mouth allows for an increase in resistance to breathing. Up to 50% harder to breath. But why is this a good thing? Because of the Bohr Effect.

Simply put, bringing in less oxygen, means higher carbon dioxide in the system, in return releasing more oxygen to the cells.

How you breathe is how you feel.