Buteyko for Sports
How you breathe during physical exercise has got to be related to how you breathe during rest. If you are an individual who’s having heavy breathing during rest, you’re also going to breathe heavy and proportional to the exercise that you’re doing.
Normal breathing volume during rest is 4 to 6 litres of air per minute. Breathing a volume which is in excess of normal, causes a loss of the gas carbon dioxide. This in turn leads to a number of events including the following:
Breathing is natural and involuntary but many factors of modern life negatively affect our breathing, such as:
When your breathing volume during rest is 4 to 6 litres of air per minute, body and brain have a normal tolerance of CO2, your breathing will be light and smooth as your body is not constantly trying to get rid of too much CO2. Contrary to popular belief, the primary stimulant signaling your body to take a breath is not lack of oxygen, rather it is an excess CO2. If your breathing is heavy during rest, you will have low CO2 tolerance. During physical exercise muscles generate more CO2 and due to your low CO2 tolerance you will begin to take big breaths through your mouth to get rid of CO2.
Many athletes adopt the practice of intentionally taking deep breaths during times of rest, during training and especially when the going is hard. However, by doing so, they are in fact limiting improvements to their performance. It is no wonder that regardless of how hard some athletes train, they still find it extremely difficult to improve their fitness levels beyond a certain point. It is also not surprising that many elite athletes experience sickness and poor health soon after they retire.
The heavy breathing, which is causing a loss of carbon dioxide, is causing reduced blood flow to the heart. The heart is experiencing less blood flow and less delivery of oxygen. The heart, like any other muscle, also needs oxygen to perform properly. In the event that the heart is having insufficient blood flow and insufficient oxygen, it can alter the electrocardiogram readings, including and causing arrhythmia.
Arrhythmia is when the pulse gets out of control and gets too fast. If the pulse gets completely chaotic, the heart may stop, which will cut circulation off to the rest of the body, including the brain. So it’s really important for all of us that our breathing is normal, not only elite athletes or those people who are involved with athletics.
Buteyko Method is specifically designed to correct breathing volume towards normal. When your breathing volume is normal during rest, you will be able to breathe through your nose without feeling gasping for air during physical exercise. On the other hand, incorporating breath holding exercises into walking, for instance, will lead to improved oxygen-carrying capacity in red blood cells. This provides similar benefits to that of altitude training, which has been used by elite athletes for some time now to give them a competitive advantage. With Buteyko breathing you get very similar benefits.