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Saturday, Aug 17, 2019

Poor posture and stress forces us to breathe dysfunctionally

Here’s a look at how we should do mindful breathing while running.

other-sports Updated: Jun 29, 2018 15:31 IST
Rajat Chauhan
Rajat Chauhan
People get breathless after running, especially when they pick it up later in life.
People get breathless after running, especially when they pick it up later in life.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

As a child you could keep running around for hours, without getting breathless, but when people start to pick up running later on in life, whether it be in their late 20s, or decades later, the regular complaint is that they get breathless very soon. The reason is that they have simply forgotten to breathe. It’s simply auto-mode. Courtesy our poor posture and stress, we breathe dysfunctionally. All of us take the most important activity that keeps us alive for granted.


How do you then fix an old habit? Surprisingly, it isn’t tough. It’s about accepting there is a problem and setting out to work on it.

READ | Run and Bee: reclaiming the joy of running

Within the ribcage lie the 2 balloons called the lungs, which sit on curtain like structure called diaphragm, which separates the lungs from organs in the abdomen. Courtesy long sitting hours pretty much from early childhood and then carried to in almost all our jobs, we all slouch. Stress in life leads shrugged shoulders.

This combination leads to limiting the ribs movement. This restricts lungs expansion, as the ribs can’t move optimally. The trick is not to think of only sitting tall and lowering your shoulders but activating the muscles that’ll help you keep that tall posture for long.


Weak upper back leads to the posture described above, which lets you use very limited percent of your lungs. Orange squeeze is an amazingly simple but effective exercise to fix that posture.

Sit tall like a puppet with a string attached to the top of your head pulling you upright. Now relax your shoulders too. Let them fall, don’t shrug them. Imagine there is an orange between your shoulder blades. Now try squeezing that imaginary orange between your shoulder blades for 2-3 seconds imagining you are taking juice out of it.

Then relax. Repeat 11 times. Keep the movement slow. Take a minute long break and then repeat again. Do it 3 times. Do this multiple times a day.

Over a month, this will help you improve your posture. Now it’s a matter of doing mindful breathing where you take in a long breath in, hold it for a second and then you breathe out. Repeat for 60 seconds every hour. Once you get used to mindful breathing while sitting, it’ll naturally come to your running as well. Try right away.

READ | Anyone who walks can run, so start now

Soft surface is definitely better for running and in this modern world, finding a soft surface is difficult, but it’ll surprise you that there are some amazing routes that you’ll instantly fall in love with. To me, running is a lot more about connecting with your own myself. For that you need to remove all the distractions. You need a place in the wild. Manger Trail is exactly that.


Manger Trail in Gurgaon is a popular running and cycling trail in Delhi NCR. It is a kilometre after the Toll Plaza on Gurgaon-Faridabad highway while coming from Gurgaon and a kilometre before the Toll Plaza while coming from Faridabad, right next to the Garbage Incinerator.

This trail goes up to Manger Ashram for 11 kms and then a further 4 km to Damdama Resort where you go around Damdama Lake and then back again.

The surface is rough and uneven dirt track, gradually going up and down but then there is a steep downhill for 300-400 metres which is pretty tough while coming back up. So, whether you are new to running, or have been running for ever, I highly recommend you venture out there with family and friends and introduce them to a different kind of wild.

(Disclaimer: The author is a Sports­-Exercise Medicine doctor who is also race director of La Ultra ­The High, a 333 km race in Leh­, Ladakh, with running experience of 33 years)

First Published: Jun 29, 2018 15:31 IST

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