Nasal Breathing and Mouth Taping
Nasal breathing allows for more oxygen to get to active tissues. That's because breathing through the nose releases nitric oxide, which is necessary to increase carbon dioxide (CO2) in the blood, which, in turn, is what releases oxygen. Mouth breathing does not effectively release nitric oxide, which means the cells are not getting as much oxygen as through nasal breathing, which could lead to fatigue and stress.
Kirsty (me) asked Kev (the bloke in the picture) the following questions to understand more about how to use mouth taping while running.
How would you get started if you have no experience?
If you have no experience and you just go out there and tape up, you’re soon going to rip that tape off because, especially if you have a high sensitivity to Co2 and if you’ve been over breathing for years, you will feel like you’re not getting enough air. Start slow:
- Practice first Go out with tape running down your lips, or go out and just try and nasal breathe without any tape to see how you feel.
- Watch your pace. When I say running, I mean very slow running, you have to reduce the pace, this is where the ego can’t get in the way. A lot of runners love their pace but knock all of that of the head because that’s not going to work.
- Set your distance: Set a distance of about a 1km to start and see if you can do it. At the beginning if you’re not used to using your nose, your nasal passage could burn a bit, or your eyes may water and it can be uncomfortable, but the more you get used to it the easier it becomes. The nose is the organ for breathing, not the mouth, so let it do it's job.
What's the furthest you have run taped up?
Half a marathon, I did it all through the nose and I felt like I had walked to be honest. Every now and again I would take the tape off to have some water or jelly babies, but I didn’t breathe through my mouth. To be honest I think I'll feel good for a marathon, so I'm looking to run 26miles next.
Have you noticed any improvements when running?
There are so many improvements! When I used to run, I’d go from this anaerobic to aerobic state during the first mile of a run, I'd be puffing and panting because my body didn't quite know how to regulate itself. With nasal breathing, that completely stopped as your body doesn’t have to regulate because it’s breathing through the organ it’s meant to breathe through.
If you look at a cheetah when it’s running at about 67mph, its mouth is shut when it runs so that can perform. Otherwise it would just build lactic acid and it would be out of breath and panting and not getting enough oxygen.
It also improves heartrate variability, as when you breathe through your nose you get more into a rhythm in your body. You tend to breathe in as you place your foot and exhale as you place down the opposite foot and once your body gets into rhythm it feels like you could run all day.
Do you get lots of weird looks?
I do get weird looks and people cross the road sometimes when they see me running, with no shirt on and taping up, I look like I’ve escaped from somewhere! I’ve never seen anyone else doing it in my area, the only people doing it are the people that I’m with.
I imagine this time next year there will be loads more people running with tape on their mouths, it’s an amazing hack and it definitely changes your body’s chemosensitivity to Co2 and stops people over breathing.
Lastly, what type of tape to you use? (Alex's question obvs)
3mm micropore tape, about 1.25cm of it, it’s generally the stickiest but the least intrusive. The 1.25 tape seems to just cover the lips and stays away from the hair, unless you have a big beard 😊
Kev also mentioned below that he gets less injuries when running with his mouth taped, perhaps the increase in oxygen? Unproven but interesting!
Visit Kev here to find out all about cold water therapy, breathwork and self discovery.