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Breathing Easy and Paddling Strong

Mon, August 28, 2023 8:36 AM | Gail Kotowski (Administrator)

“Breathing Easy and Paddling Strong:   A Guide to Breathe Mechanics and Exercises for SUP”

By Dr Tony Peters D.C. Charlotte,NC

Just like any rigorous physical activity, proper breathing mechanics while paddling plays a crucial role in enhancing performance and overall enjoyment during SUP.  In this article, we will delve into the importance of breathing mechanics while stand-up paddling and introduce simple exercises to improve your breath control. 

The Importance of Breathing Mechanics:

Breathing mechanics are fundamental to any physical activity, as they directly impact your body's ability to perform optimally.  While stand-up paddling, the right breathing technique ensures an adequate supply of oxygen to your muscles, improves stamina, and enhances focus and balance.

During SUP, it's essential to maintain rhythmic breathing that synchronizes with your paddle strokes. This means taking deep, steady breaths in through your nose and exhaling gradually through your mouth.  By doing so, you engage your respiratory muscles like the diaphragm and core muscles, promoting stability and preventing fatigue.

Simple Breathing Exercises on Land - 

1. Diaphragmatic Breathing:

Lie down or sit in a comfortable position, placing one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen.  Inhale deeply through your nose, feeling your abdomen rise as you fill your lungs with air.  Exhale slowly through your mouth, focusing on fully emptying your lungs. Repeat this exercise to improve breath control and expand lung capacity.

2. Box Breathing:  Or Square Breathing

This exercise helps regulate your breath and enhance focus.  Inhale deeply for a count of four, hold your breath for four counts, exhale for four counts, and then pause for another four counts before starting the cycle again. Repeat this pattern for a few minutes to calm your mind and increase breath awareness.

Breathing Mechanics While Paddling

Now that you've practiced some breathing exercises, let's apply these techniques on the water:

1. Find Your Rhythm:

As you begin paddling, try to establish a rhythmic pattern of breathing that complements your paddle strokes.  Inhale through your nose during the recovery phase when your paddle is out of the water, and exhale out of your mouth during the power phase when you exert force to propel yourself forward.  You can make noise too, such as “HA” or “KEE-YAA” and sound like you are on the set of a karate movie…cool!

2. Mindful Breathing:

Much easier said than done - focus on your breath during the entire SUP session.  Be conscious of each inhale and exhale, as this mindfulness will help you maintain proper form and balance on the board.  If you do manage to do this perfectly, then you probably will be able to walk on water without a board and wear a robe. 

3. Adjust Breathing to Conditions:

Remember to adapt your breathing to the paddling conditions.  In rougher waters or strong winds, you may need to take deeper breaths and pace yourself accordingly to conserve energy.  Deep breaths can also help balance!

Breathing mechanics are a fundamental aspect of stand-up paddling that can significantly impact your performance and overall experience.  By incorporating simple breathing exercises into your routine and adopting mindful breathing while on a SUP, you can enhance your breath control, stamina, and balance on the water.  Whether you're a beginner or an experienced paddler, mastering the art of breathing will undoubtedly elevate your stand-up paddling journey to new heights.  So, take a deep breath, hit the water, and keep paddling!

Tony Peters DC is a long time paddler and has a solo chiropractic practice in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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