Breathing, walking: these two movements seem so natural that we do them almost unconsciously. However, just as you had to learn how to walk correctly to practise power walking, you also need to re-learn how to breathe properly.
A well executed breath will make walking more comfortable and endurance easier but will also lead to more well-being in your daily life.
So breathe some well-being into your life!
Breathing correctly: essential for power walking
During your power walking session, you are concentrating hard on the movement of your arms, the stride of your feet, the posture of your back… but without realising it, you may also be holding your breath!
But it is at exactly this moment that your muscles need the most oxygen to function properly, to perform and endure!
To avoid becoming breathless, or getting the stitch in your side that rapidly follows, breathe deeply and regularly with your abdomen. If you do this, you will be using your lung capacity to its fullest and taking in the oxygen necessary for maintaining the effort. This will enable you to walk better and for longer!
Controlling your breathing at rest, with a breathing exercise
To train yourself to "breathe", practise at home, when you are at rest or just before a session of power walking.
1 - Lie down on your back
Relax and place one hand on your stomach.
2 - Breathe in through your nose, slowly and deeply
You will feel your abdomen fill with air, followed by your lungs.This expansion is due to the contraction of your diaphragm, a kind of elastic band located between your thorax and your abdomen.
3 - Exhale through your mouth
Your diaphragm will relax, which will in turn push the air out of your lungs. Your abdomen will then deflate slowly.
By practising this exercise regularly, you will discover that it is also very effective for reducing everyday stress! Deep and conscious breathing will bring you a real increase in clarity.
Breathing correctly for better posture and muscle tone
Cross-country walker Emmanuel Lassalle learned to dominate his breath during training. He translated the exercise above into his sporting practise and has noticed many benefits. "It helps to straighten up the body, which is vital for the right posture for power walking and prevents back pain."
An additional benefit: breathing with the stomach in a conscious way also works the abdominal muscles! To work these muscles, don't hesitate to contract them slightly during the expiration phase.
Find the right breathing rhythm for power walking
Have you mastered abdominal breathing? Now work on your own breathing rhythm.
Because "there are as many ways of breathing as there are walkers!" according to Emmanuel Lassalle. Whereas, "personally, I pace my breathing to match the movements of my arms. I breathe in for 3 arm swing movements and breathe out for the next 3" he says, but some other walkers prefer to time their breathing to their strides.
Find your tempo and appreciate the increase in your endurance. Above all, don't forget to start and end your session with a slower walking pace… this will allow you to recover your breath and your energy faster!
Do you have another breathing technique? Share it with us in a few words!