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How to Do Deep Belly Breathing

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Updated June 16, 2014

A young man taking a rest from running, leaning against a tree
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One of the common problems runners, especially beginners, experience is side stitches, or cramping right under the rib cage. Deep belly breathing can help prevent side stitches and maximize oxygen intake, helping runners to perform better. The idea is to draw in the most amount of air into your lungs with each breath. Here's how you do it.

  1. First, you need to make sure that you have good upper body form. Keep your shoulders relaxed, but make sure you're not slouching. If you're feeling tense, drop your arms, and shake them out to release the tension.

  2. As you breathe in through your mouth, push your stomach out and, at the same time, push down and out with your diaphragm. This gives your lungs the most amount of room to expand and draw in oxygen. You should feel your abdomen expanding, rather than your upper chest.

  3. Breathe out slowly and evenly through your mouth.

  4. You can check to see if you're doing it correctly by lying on your back and watching your stomach as you breathe. You should see your stomach rising and falling with each breath. If you only see your chest move up, you're not breathing deeply enough. Practice it while lying down, and then try to remember that technique when you're running.

More for Beginner Runners:

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