How top athletes breathe: Breathing the right way is everything!

Proper breathing is very important in sports: if you learn to breathe through your nose, exercising will become much easier for you. Do you have a tendency to hold your breath or breathe incorrectly? You're asking for problems
12.Oct 2021
 
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Up to 90 percent of the population doesn't breathe properly. According to statistics, up to 90% of the population breathes through thoracic breathing and only 10% use high-quality diaphragmatic-thoracic deep breathing. Thoracic breathing is completely unsuitable for sports, as adequate oxygenation of one's body is a key factor for higher performance of the organism. Unfortunately, a spirometric examination is not performed often enough in professional sports. We talked to several experts about the proper way of breathing.

Conor McGregor - bojovník smíšených bojových umění

For example, did you know that legend of the silver screen Bud Spencer started out as a sexy swimmer at the Olympics? And he's certainly not the only star who could talk about the importance of proper breathing. Even among top athletes, there are individuals who have trouble breathing or suffer from asthma. Knowing how to breathe is key to delivering top performance in the vast majority of sports. It is the knowledge of how to breathe properly that helps us not only to feel better, but also to perform better.

Ladies, you won't get rid of those extra pounds without oxygen!

Britská reality hvězda a instruktorka jógy Casey Batchelor
Britská reality hvězda a instruktorka jógy Casey Batchelor • Source: Profimedia

Listen up, ladies! If you want to lose weight through exercise, it's important to supply your body with as much oxygen as possible, as it helps break down lactic acid in the muscles and transform fats into energy. Increase your oxygen intake, whether through training or outdoor activities, and losing weight will be easier. During the weight loss process, fat leaves our body through our lungs - by exhaling - in the form of carbon dioxide.

RUNNING

It's said that 9 out of 10 people breathe incorrectly, namely through their mouth. When running, one should breathe through one's nose and the airflow should go all the way down to one's abdomen. Oxygen absorption is much more effective when using abdominal breathing!

Luxusní vila na prodej na Praze 6 - 590
Luxusní vila na prodej na Praze 6 - 590, Praha 6

"A spirometric examination, which can tell you a great deal about the athletes, is of great importance to me. Unfortunately, it's not commonly used in professional sports, "

fitness trainer Michal Břetenář explains for LP-Life.com.

Sympatický kondiční trenér Michal Břetenář.
Sympatický kondiční trenér Michal Břetenář. • Source: se svolením Michala Břenetáře

Slečna na vozicku na paralympiádě v Tokyu
Slečna na vozicku na paralympiádě v Tokyu • Source: se svolením Michala Břenetáře

"Ultramarathon runner Scott Jurek breathes through his nose so he can eat while running, and it works for him, but if I were to make a recommendation, it would be don't talk and breathe through your mouth,"

says Břetenář. Jurek took part in the now-famous legendary run with the indigenous people of the Tarahumara tribe and is vegan.

Ultramaratonec Scott Jurek.
Ultramaratonec Scott Jurek. • Source: Profimedia

YOGA

Modelka Alessandra Ambrosio.
Modelka Alessandra Ambrosio. • Source: Profimedia

You've probably seen Tibetan monks practise yoga for hours at a time on TV. Such activities typically require extra long inhales and exhales. If you stop breathing, your body becomes stiff. On the other hand, regular and prolonged breathing relieves tension. Even the most sought-after Brazilian model Alessandra Ambrosio swears by yoga. And she is the face of Victoria Secret, a world-famous luxury lingerie brand!

HOCKEY

Patrice Bergeron.
Patrice Bergeron. • Source: Profimedia

Due to bad stereotypes, most hockey players tend to hold their breath

“One rotation takes about 45-55s. The length of the rotation has no influence on lung damage. A player with a large capacity only has better predispositions, but that doesn't mean he can outlast or outperform everyone. A player with a smaller lung capacity, which he can use effectively, can give better performance than a hockey player, whose capacity is, say, 1-1.5 litres larger, but his breathing technique is poor,"

explains Břetenář.

According to Břetenář, it is extremely important to be able to know how to work with your breathing. If you know how to "switch" between various breathing modes, you can save a lot of energy.

Patrice Bergeron played a match with a pierced lung!

Most typical hockey injuries are caused by impacts, but lung injuries are no exception either.

"I don't regret anything I went through. I had learned from others the sacrifices you need to make as a team in order to win in the playoffs. But most of all, I’d do it all again because I know a pain that hurts so much more than any of those injuries: The pain of not making the playoffs at all,”

Bergeron said.

Penthouse Troja 309m
Penthouse Troja 309m, Praha 7

He lost the fight against lung cancer

Former American hockey player Tom Kurvers died at the age of 58 after a long battle with lung cancer.

Russian hockey player Fajzutdinov died after being hit in the head with a puck

Only 19-year-old, the young player suffered a fracture of the temporal bone, bleeding into the brain and damage to the carotid artery. He was taken to the ICU and placed on life support. Both his heart and lungs had stopped working.

Blackwater had air in his chest

A shifted bone pierced his lung. He had surgery in Nitra and spent some time in the ICU.

Winning with asthma isn't impossible

The most common problem associated with poor breathing in athletes is asthma. It doesn't help that many athletes are unaware they suffer from it.

Tennis player Petra Kvitová

Tenistka Petra Kvitová
Tenistka Petra Kvitová • Source: Profimedia

She has problems with heat and high humidity on the court. A few minutes into a training session, she runs out of breath. She needs to use an inhaler.

"It has stabilized, it's not getting worse. I'm taking some meds, and I'm doing better physically, all of which helps me manage my asthma better,"

opened up the world ranking player.

Water slalom skier Ladislav Škantár

Ladislav Škantár s bratrem Petrem.
Ladislav Škantár s bratrem Petrem. • Source: Profimedia

The Olympic gold winner suffers from seasonal allergies and asthma from an early age.

"I have never performed well in running and other endurance disciplines. I run out of breath quickly,"

explains Škantár.

Shooter Zuzana Štefeček Reháková

Twelve years ago, she began to have trouble breathing and started to suffer from suffocating cough. Her allergy had developed into asthma.

"I rely on eye drops and nose drops, I rarely use my inhaler. But when the bad season comes, I'm thankful for every rainy day. "

Athlete Roman Šebrle

Atlet Roman Šebrle.
Atlet Roman Šebrle. • Source: Profimedia

A few years ago, he had to apply for a therapeutic use exemption due to problems with his asthma cough.

Football legend David Beckham

David Beckham.
David Beckham. • Source: Profimedia

She has suffered from asthma since childhood. Luckily, she has mild asthma and uses her inhaler only occasionally.

Italian swimmer Federica Pellegrini

Plavkyně Federica Pellegrini.
Plavkyně Federica Pellegrini. • Source: Profimedia

She doesn't hide her asthma either. Chlorinated water isn't good for allergy sufferers.

BOXING

Herec Juraj Lůj.
Herec Juraj Lůj. • Source: Profimedia

When it comes to boxing, it's important to know how to work with your breath when you're under pressure, to be able to speed up your blow with dynamic exhalation, and to replenish oxygen in your muscles as quickly as possible during breaks between rounds. Slovak actor Juraj Lůj, Rytmus and Mickey Rourke have all come to enjoy this sport.

MMA FIGHTING

Michal Břetenář a zápasník Michal Martínek.
Michal Břetenář a zápasník Michal Martínek. • Source: se svolením Michala Břenetáře

Jakub Štáfek is a Czech actor, screenwriter, director and also a mixed martial arts fighter.

Jakub Štáfek a Michal Břetenář.
Jakub Štáfek a Michal Břetenář. • Source: se svolením Michala Břenetáře

The wrestlers get into a huge number of different positions that are very physically demanding. A large number of fighters want to finish the match at all costs, they put too much strength into their techniques and blows, and quite often they simply try to plough their opponent down, sadly while holding their breath. If their plan doesn't work out, they have a problem.

"I put so much force into those blows that I forgot to exhale during those techniques, focusing only on hitting as hard as possible, but one really needs to breathe through every move, the body needs to breathe on its own accord. Deep exhalations and subsequent inhalations to regain that energy are a must, and I forgot about that a couple of times, and halfway into the first round, I had to catch up on it,"

explains Jiří Procházka, MMA wrestler.

Tom Hardy známý z filmu Venom.
Tom Hardy známý z filmu Venom. • Source: Profimedia

Among the celebrities who work hard on becoming MMA fighters is singer Demi Lovato, who even trains with former UFC wrestler Cung Lee, or actor Tom Hardy.

SYNCHRONIZED SWIMMING

Akvabela Lívia Dulová Allárová se sestrou Lucií.
Akvabela Lívia Dulová Allárová se sestrou Lucií. • Source: se svolením Lívie Dulovej Allárovej

This women's sport is also called water ballet. Synchronized swimmers perform many of their tricks with their heads submerged and a clamp on their noses, which is also challenging in terms of breathing. LP-Life.com spoke with Lívia Dulová Allárová, a participant in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney and a multiple world champion in the Masters category in synchronized swimming, about breathing in this sport.

“All swimming sports fall into the category of “healthy sports”, in which the vital capacity of the lungs increases during regular and long-term exercise or training. That means the development and increase of lung volume, because swimming sports are dependent on the intake of a larger amount of oxygen. As a result, the lungs expand and are therefore able to take in more oxygen. In synchronized swimming, the most important thing is endurance on one breath, because the swimmers spend the larger part of their performance underwater. They have to stay submerged as long as possible, but since they have to move around while holding their breath, things get even more difficult. During training, synchronized swimmers regularly swim 50 meters or more underwater, for example, which takes about 1 minute or longer. If we wanted to compare it with another sport, we could say if an athlete were to run a 400 m sprint without breathing, then he would endure the equivalent of what synchronized swimmers have to endure."

 Lívia s Lucií měly možnost trénovat v nejlepších oddílech v Americe a v Kanadě.
Lívia s Lucií měly možnost trénovat v nejlepších oddílech v Americe a v Kanadě. • Source: se svolením Lívie Dulovej Allárovej

Aqua je voda, bella znamená pěkná.
Aqua je voda, bella znamená pěkná. • Source: se svolením Lívie Dulovej Allárovej

Abroad, we can find a number of former representatives in swimming among popular actors.

Strongman Bud Spencer

Mladý Bud Spencer, 1952.
Mladý Bud Spencer, 1952. • Source: Mistrovství světa FINA

Bud Spencer s fotografií sebe sama za mlada.
Bud Spencer s fotografií sebe sama za mlada. • Source: Oficiální stránka Buda Spencera

Bud Spencer a Terence Hill ve filmu.
Bud Spencer a Terence Hill ve filmu. • Source: Profimedia

He has a degree in law, but decided to pursue a career as a sports swimmer later. Actually, he was the first Italian swimmer to make 100 meters freestyle in less than a minute. In addition, he is also a multiple Italian freestyle and breaststroke swimming champion. Spencer participated in the Olympic Games in Helsinki in 1952 and in Melbourne in 1956.

Johnny Weissmüller alias Tarzan

Johnny Weissmüller.
Johnny Weissmüller. • Source: Profimedia

The actor became famous for his films about Tarzan from the 1930s and 1940s as well as his records in swimming. He was one of the fastest swimmers of the 1920s, winning five Olympic gold medals in swimming and one silver medal in water polo. He also won 52 national championships, set 67 world records and made history as one of the world's top athletes of his time. After wrapping up his sports career, he delved fully into acting and portrayed the character of Tarzan in twelve films.

FREEDIVING

Potápění s velrybami.
Potápění s velrybami. • Source: Freediving s rybím okom / Rex Shutterstock

What do most people imagine when they hear the term freediving? The Big Blue. But reality is nothing like this movie. In freediving, peace and balance are the most important things. During a dive, the volume of air in the lungs decreases. Freedivers don’t use any auxiliary breathing apparatus and it’s not uncommon for them to hold their breath for 5 minutes, to swim a distance of tens or hundreds of meters underwater, or to reach depths many people would never even dream possible on a single breath.

The question of when is the right time to end the dive and return to the surface is difficult to answer, because it’s different for everyone.

"An untrained individual who has never done freediving won’t be able to hold their breath for six minutes. A trained athlete can hold his breath for nine minutes. We have to train the body mentally and physically to hold our breath, and then each of us individually will know when is the right time, "

says freediver Katarína Linczényiová.

"The most important rule of freediving - never dive alone,"

she adds.

One thing is for sure: whatever your training goal, proper breathing can affect your training and bump you up a level.

Sources: Fitastyl, Šport je život, Gymbeam, theplayerstribune, Hockeyslovakia, own inquiry

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