Nose breathing and swimming

Nose breathing and swimming

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If you're standing and holding your nose closed, it becomes quickly uncomfortable; although you can breath fully through your mouth, it still feels like your lacking air since you're naturally trying to breath through your nose and you can feel the restriction.

On the other side, when swimming with a nose plug, you can have your nose totally shut down, breath only through the mouth and somehow you do not have the feeling of nose obstruction blocking your air intake.

Why is this?

One possible answer for your question could have to do with the level of exercise the subject is doing.

While the nasal passage is the main route for breathing, it provides cleaner air and allows for more even and slow respiration rates, a greater volume of air can pass through the mouth LaComb.

There is no discomfort in mouth breathing during exercise because mouth breathing can deliver greater amounts of oxygen and release greater amounts of CO2; it is the preferred method of breathing for increased activity.

Secondly, discomfort in oral breathing stems from a perception of breathlessness due to stimulation of receptors in the oral mucosa. When patients were required to breath orally with humidified air, no instances of breathlessness were reported (Source).

Based on these two studies, when exercising oral-breathing is required to deliver adequate amounts of O2. Therefore, nasal-breathing is not required and an obstruction of the nasal passage is not percieved. When exercising in a pool, discomfort of oral-breathing is diminished due to the humidity of the surrounding air. When not exercising, and breathing orally in low humidity air, discomfort is felt due to the stimulation of receptors in the oral mucosa.

Swimming Nose Clips – Advantages and Disadvantages

Swimming nose clips are little devices made of bent wire padded with rubber. They are designed to keep the water out of your nose.

To do so, you stick the device on your nose and it pinches your nostrils together.

A simple nose clip with a wire-bound frame and latex padding.

Basic Swim Breathing Mechanics

  1. Get comfortable breathing in through the mouth and out through the nose. Blow out all your air through your nose before you take a breath (note – see FAQ below about exhaling from the mouth). If you exhale completely, you’ll be able to take a quick breath and avoid pausing your stroke.
  2. As the pulling arm begins to sweep down to the hips, rotate – do not lift – your head to the side of the pulling arm. To keep the head from rotating too far, keep one goggle lens in the water.
  3. As the arm swings over the water, rotate the head back into a neutral position – the head in line with the spine.
  4. Repeat every three strokes (optimally – you may need to adjust this depending on your swim mechanics, fitness, and personal preference).

Both chlorine and bromine are gases in the halogen family of chemicals. Both chemicals are used to sanitize water. Chlorine is less expensive and is often used in public pools. Unlike bromine, chlorine can tolerate sunlight and is most often used in outdoor facilities. Bromine is used for hot tubs and spas because it is easily destroyed by sunlight. Bromine does not have the chemical smell of chlorine, which acts as irritant that can result in nasal congestion. Both chemicals can cause respiratory and skin reactions. They are absorbed through your skin, so showering off as soon as you can after leaving the pool is important.

Inhaled water that lodges in your sinus cavities can cause irritation and infection. This condition is known as sinusitis and nasal congestion is one of the first symptoms. You are more likely to get an infection from ocean or lake water because it is not sanitized and is filled with living organisms. If your nasal congestion is accompanied by headache, body aches and fever, see your health care provider for proper treatment.

Proper swimming hygiene is essential. Pre- and post-swim showers with soap and water should be mandatory at the facility where you swim. If you swim at an indoor pool, it should have good ventilation to help reduce the presence of chemical vapors from chlorine and other water sanitizers. A nose clip will effectively stop your from inhaling water if you often get water in your nose. The clip will also help protect your nasal mucosa from exposure to chemical irritants. Try saline, cromolyn sodium or steroid nasal spray to reduce symptoms of congestion. Also consider using oral decongestants or antihistamines if you are allergic to pool chemicals. Seek guidance from your health care provider to help determine what is best for you.

The Breathing While Swimming Ratio

On land, most people are accustomed to breathing in a one-to-one ratio, with the inhale and exhale of approximately the same length. This doesn't work as well in the water. Your body's swimming momentum will likely cut off the exhale before it's fully finished.

A better ratio for performance breathing while swimming is two-to-one, with the exhale lasting twice as long as the inhale. With practice, some swimmers can achieve a three-to-one ratio. Ratios can also vary depending on the swimming stroke for example, in freestyle swimming, you breathe every three strokes. You can alternate mouth and nasal exhalations instead, sometimes getting a longer exhale through the mouth to maintain the breathing pattern.

Breathing Is Believing: The Importance of Nasal Breathing

I grew up during the age of Jane Fonda aerobics marathons and “No pain, no gain” mantras. When the way of the warrior was breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. As an exercise enthusiast and a dancer throughout college, I lived my life this way without ever questioning the theory. Now I know better: Question everything!

Breathing is a 24-7 unconscious act. Breathing provides necessary oxygen to your body, without which the cells of your body would quickly die. But are you breathing the “right way”?

The path of the breath

The air we breathe is first processed through the nose. The nose is a miraculous filter lined with tiny hairs called cilia. The cilia have many functions: they filter, humidify and warm or cool the air (depending on the temperature) before it enters the lungs. It is estimated that cilia protect our bodies against about 20 billion particles of foreign matter every day!

Once it exits the nose, air passes through the mucus-lined windpipe. This is another avenue to trap unwanted particles before they enter the lungs. Next, air enters the lungs, where the oxygen is pumped into the bloodstream and circulated through the body. In exchange, the air leaving the body carries with it carbon dioxide from the cells, a waste material that is expelled through exhalation.

The benefits of nasal breathing

Breathing through the nose is the way our bodies were designed. In fact, it’s been said that breathing through your mouth is about as practical as trying to eat through your nose!

According to experts, most people breathe at 10-20 percent of their full capacity. Restricted breathing greatly decreases respiratory function, which in turn decreases energy levels in the body. Since oxygen is our main source of life, and exhalation is the main way to expel toxins from our bodies, poor breathing can contribute to a multitude of health problems, from high blood pressure to insomnia. Poor breathing may even contribute to some forms of cancer: In 1931, Otto Warburg won a Nobel Prize for determining that only oxygen-starved cells will mutate and become cancerous. That should be proof enough to learn how to breathe properly!

Many of us feel stressed out, overworked, and overstimulated during our daily lives, which leaves us in a chronic state of fight or flight response. Breathing in and out through the nose helps us take fuller, deeper breaths, which stimulates the lower lung to distribute greater amounts of oxygen throughout the body. Also, the lower lung is rich with the parasympathetic nerve receptors associated with calming the body and mind, whereas the upper lungs — which are stimulated by chest and mouth breathing — prompt us to hyperventilate and trigger sympathetic nerve receptors, which result in the fight or flight reaction.

Another reason to embrace proper nasal breathing? It can enhance your workout! John Douillard, author of Body Mind Sport, says:

“To experience the zone in training is our birthright, and it is within the design of our human nervous system to access it. To push ourselves to exhaustion when we have the capacity to allow effortless, perfect performance to flow naturally, from the inside out, seems somehow primitive and a waste of time. I have never heard of a peak experience that was described as painful, grueling or exhausting. Rather, the descriptions always fit the original definition of exercise: rejuvenating, stress-reliving and accessing full human potential.”

Here are a few more of the benefits of nasal breathing:

  • The lungs actually extract oxygen from the air during exhalation, in addition to inhalation. Because the nostrils are smaller than the mouth, air exhaled through the nose creates a back flow of air (and oxygen) into the lungs. And because we exhale more slowly through the nose than we do though the mouth, the lungs have more time to extract oxygen from the air we’ve already taken in.
  • When there is proper oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange during respiration, the blood will maintain a balanced pH. If carbon dioxide is lost too quickly, as in mouth breathing, oxygen absorption is decreased, which can result in dizziness or even fainting.
  • Air that we inhale through the nose passes through the nasal mucosa, which stimulates the reflex nerves that control breathing. Mouth breathing bypasses the nasal mucosa and makes regular breathing difficult, which can lead to snoring, breath irregularities and sleep apnea.
  • Breathing through the nose forces us to slow down until proper breath is trained therefore, proper nose breathing reduces hypertension and stress. It also helps prevent us from overexerting ourselves during a workout.
  • Our nostrils and sinuses filter and warm/cool air as it enters our bodies.
  • Our sinuses produce nitric oxide, which, when carried into the body through the breath, combats harmful bacteria and viruses in our bodies, regulates blood pressure and boosts the immune system.
  • Mouth breathing accelerates water loss, contributing to dehydration.
  • The nose houses olfactory bulbs, which are direct extensions of part of the brain called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is responsible for many functions in our bodies, particularly those that are automatic, such as heartbeat, blood pressure, thirst, appetite and sleep cycles. The hypothalamus is also responsible for generating chemicals that influence memory and emotion.
  • The increased oxygen we get through nasal breath increases energy and vitality.

Perfecting your breath

Among all natural self-healing techniques, breath work is unique because breathing is the only conscious means of improving, maintaining, and repairing the other unconsciously run systems of the body. Heart rate, blood pressure, circulation, digestion, hormone secretion, and even our mental and emotional states all can be controlled, regulated, and healed through proper breathing practices. Ancient yogis knew this, and modern research and science agree. Once the body is healthy, nourished and calm through proper breath work, the body can soar to its full potential.

So how do we make sure we are breathing correctly? Here are some tips:

Belly breathing

Belly breathing —in conjunction with nasal breathing — is the most efficient way to achieve optimal health. Many people who breath through the mouth too much are also shallow chest breathers. Poor posture and a sedentary lifestyle contribute to this lazy, ineffective and unhealthy way of breathing. Instead, focus on breathing through the nose and into the belly.

The breathing muscle is the diaphragm, which should rise and fall with each breath, producing a belly movement. This movement massages the stomach and vital organs of digestion, promoting good elimination, another way to remove toxins from the body. This type of breathing also stimulates the vagus nerve, a cranial nerve that starts in the brain stem and extends, down below the head to the neck, chest and abdomen, where it contributes to the innervation of the organs of the body. Besides output to the various organs in the body, the vagus nerve conveys sensory information about the state of the body’s organs to the central nervous system.

Nasal irrigation

One reason people do not utilize the nose for optimal breathing is that they are chronically congested. The age-old practice of Jala Neti, nasal irrigation, is the answer. This practice is thousands of years old, adapted from Eastern medicine. It is as common in the yoga community as brushing your teeth!

Proper breathing oxygenates the body and helps eliminate free radicals by removing pollutants, toxins and allergens. Accumulation of toxins takes place all the time and it is necessary to find safe, natural, non-addictive ways to rid the body of them and restore cells to normal. Nasal irrigation tools, such as neti pots, are a great way to accomplish this. This non-pharmacological therapy involves rinsing the nasal passages with a saltwater solution, helping to rid the nose of allergens and mucus. Nasal saline irrigation has been shown to be a beneficial therapy in the treatment and prevention of sinus infection and allergic rhinitis, and may even reduce the need for antibiotics in those people prone to sinus infections. Using a neti pot will leave you feeling invigorated, will decrease drowsiness, and will balance and strengthen the nervous system.

Yoga poses for proper breathing

Finally, here are some easy yoga poses and breathing practices to help open your ribcage and achieve optimum breath:

So for the next few days, try to slow down and focus on breathing deeply in and out of your nose!

Front Crawl Breathing Through The Nose Or Mouth?

Hi, I am having swimming lessons to try to learn to swim front crawl rather than just 'head out of the water breaststroke' which is all that my swimming ability has been for the last fifty years. I am having lessons at the local pool and have just purchased your book 'How To Swim Front Crawl' through Amazon as an aid to learning. One point puzzles me, we are told to trickle breath out through our noses whilst you advocate this is a fault. Why the difference and why do you class breathing out through the nose as a fault please?

Breathing technique when swimming any stroke is best done in and out through the mouth. The simple reason is that the mouth is a bigger opening than the nose making it easier and more efficient for getting air in and out.

Most beginners learning to swim, especially front crawl, find breathing the most difficult part. If they are encouraged to exhale through the nose, then their natural instinct is to then inhale through the nose. This makes the whole breathing process slower.

Also, we are able to shape our mouth and lips in order to help control the speed at which we exhale - something we can't do with our nose. I encourage my pupils to 'breathe out through pursed lips' in an attempt to help them control their breathing. Granted you can breathe out slowly through your nose but it is much easier to control through the mouth.

Then, if exhalation takes place through the mouth, inhalation is more likely to occur naturally thought the mouth too, which will ensure sufficient air is taken in quickly (as its a larger opening). Also it is very easy to take water up into the nose accidentally on inhalation which can be very unpleasant and off putting.

My book is aimed at beginners learning front crawl and needing some extra guidance, but it is just that - a book. For that reason I have to be very general and cover as wide an audience as possible as I am not able to see everyone swimming! Therefore I class breathing though the nose as a fault in an attempt to ensure everyone is practicing the easiest technique possible.

There is no law against breathing through the nose and you may well find it very comfortable, but I would encourage you to try both methods and see which you prefer.

Many world class swimmers wear a nose clip to completely eliminate use of the nose when they swim.

Do whatever your swimming teacher is advising you to do, as they know what is best for you as an individual. He or she can actually see you swimming. I can’t!

I hope I have helped in some way. Thank you very much for purchasing my book and I wish you every success with your swimming.

Feature: Myth vs. Reality

Drowning is defined as respiratory impairment from being in or under a liquid. It is further classified according to its outcome into: death, ongoing health problems, or no ongoing health problems (full recovery). Four hundred Canadians die annually from drowning, and drowning is one of the leading causes of death in children under the age of five. There are some potentially dangerous myths about drowning, and knowing what they are might save your life or the life of a loved one, especially a child.

Mind under the Influence

Even a rudimentary understanding of physiology helps to explain why controlled breathing can induce relaxation. Everyone knows that emotions affect the body. When you are happy, for instance, the corners of your mouth turn up automatically, and the edges of your eyes crinkle in a characteristic expression. Similarly, when you are feeling calm and safe, at rest, or engaged in a pleasant social exchange, your breathing slows and deepens. You are under the influence of the parasympathetic nervous system, which produces a relaxing effect. Conversely, when you are feeling frightened, in pain, or tense and uncomfortable, your breathing speeds up and becomes shallower. The sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the body&rsquos various reactions to stress, is now activated. Less well known is that the effects also occur in the opposite direction: the state of the body affects emotions. Studies show that when your face smiles, your brain reacts in kind&mdashyou experience more pleasant emotions. Breathing, in particular, has a special power over the mind.

This power is evident in patients who have breathing difficulties. When these difficulties are sporadic and acute, they can trigger panic attacks when they are chronic, they often induce a more muted anxiety. It is estimated that more than 60 percent of people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have anxiety or depressive disorders. These disorders probably stem in part from concerns about the consequences of the disease (what could be more distressing than struggling to breathe?), but purely mechanical factors may contribute as well: the difficulty these patients experience often leads to faster breathing, which does not necessarily improve the quality of their oxygen supply but can aggravate their physical discomfort and anxiety.

Rapid breathing can contribute to and exacerbates panic attacks through a vicious circle: fear triggers faster breathing, which increases fear. In 2005 Georg Alpers, now at the University of Mannheim in Germany, and his colleagues observed significant and unconscious hyperventilation when people who had a driving phobia took their vehicles on the highway (where they might not be able to pull over if they become agitated).

Whether anxiety derives from breathing problems or other causes, it can be eased by a number of breathing techniques derived from traditional Eastern approaches (see &ldquoSix Techniques for Relieving Stress&rdquo). For example, &ldquofollow your breath,&rdquo an exercise that focuses attention on breathing, is one of the first steps in mindfulness meditation, whereas alternate nostril breathing comes from yoga. Combining reassuring thoughts with breathing is an approach incorporated into sophrology, a technique that emphasizes harmony of body and mind and that borrows exercises from many approaches, including yoga and mindfulness.

Overall, research shows that these techniques reduce anxiety, although the anxiety does not disappear completely. Breathing better is a tool, not a panacea. Some methods have been validated by clinical studies others have not. But all of those I describe in this article apply principles that have been proved effective. They aim to slow, deepen or facilitate breathing, and they use breathing as a focal point or a metronome to distract attention from negative thoughts.

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This concludes our article on basic tips and exercises for learning the breathing technique in swimming. I hope this information will be helpful to you.

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