Here at Cohen Health and Performance, we often work on nasal breathing with our clients. Why in the world would be doing that? After all, we are physical therapists. Aren’t we just supposed to be strengthening, stretching, and doing things like that?
Feeling better and performing at your best extends far beyond these classic approaches to rehab.
The body will do whatever it can to maintain the ability to breath. It will increase stress on other areas, even when painful, if it helps to breath more effectively. Maintaining the ability to breath ensures that you are surviving; your body cares much more about that then the pain you may be experiencing or your health/fitness goals.
One simple way to improve the body’s ability to breath effectively is to optimize nasal breathing.
Nasal breathing (breathing through the nose) is the body’s optimal breathing strategy when at rest, and during gentle or moderate intensity exercise. Breathing through your nose properly filters, humidifies, and warms or cools (depending on the outside temperature) the air you are breathing. Furthermore, nasal breathing allows for more oxygen to be extracted, because it takes longer when compared to mouth breathing.
Breathing through the nose has many other benefits including regulating stress, blood pressure, and the immune system.
Begin by practicing relaxed breathing for 5 minutes per day. Attempt to breath in and out through the nose with 5 second pauses after each exhalation. The exhalation should be twice as long as the inhalation.
For the superstars out there, attempt this with a meditation app such as calm or headspace.
**Talk to your physician if you have anything that affects your ability to breath such as asthma, allergies, or a deviated septum. Issues such as these can force you to mouth breath and interrupt your best efforts.