Saturday, February 25, 2017
Breathing and Cycling
How do you breathe when cycling? Do you breathe strictly through your nose, your mouth, or a combination of the two?
The question came up one evening, the cold air feeling painful in my throat as I struggled homeward, still reeling from a lengthy bout of sickness. If felt great to be bike commuting again but I realized that my usual mode of breathing - inhaling through my mouth - was uncomfortable. I resorted to 30 second bursts of breathing through my nose, then resorted to gulping air by mouth, repeating the cycle until I made it home.
I compared "breathing" notes with my husband. He only breathes through his nose while cycling and with any intense effort, like struggling up a short hill, might he open his mouth for extra oxygen. Completely opposite of me! I rely on mouth breathing, mostly, but will momentarily close my mouth on summer evenings when pedaling through a cloud of insects.
There are certainly benefits to breathing through the nose: filtering particles like dust, and in the instances of tender throat, pre-warming, pre-moistening the air before it reaches your lungs. I suspect I probably suffer from light nasal congestion, perhaps allergens, etc. so I've never been able to feel like I get enough oxygen strictly inhaling through my nostrils. And when I think about it, even when walking. There must be something about being outdoors that causes me to react this way because when I'm indoors or sleeping I prefer to breath through my nose. Either way, I'm not too bothered by my reaction because I manage cycling just fine!
With a cursory search on the Internet it seems that pro cyclists breathe through their noses and expel breath similar to yoga techniques for optimal efficiency. Not that I hold stock with the pros, but it is interesting, nonetheless.
I'm curious though, for everyday cycling, how do you breathe?