After battling bronchitis for three weeks, a tentative ride on the bike was very welcome. I didn’t go very far or very long — I just wanted to see if I was ready to come back. I think I am.
It didn’t take long into my ride before I became aware of something I don’t think about during my “normal” rides: breathing. My lungs have been so congested these past few weeks that I haven’t been able to take in a deep breath without bursting into a coughing fit. But this time, I could.
My throat was still a bit raw, however, so I started experimenting with my breathing technique. Normally, I breathe through my mouth, both inhaling and exhaling. But the air passing down my throat this time stung its sensitive lining, so I breathed through my nose. I can’t take in as much air that way, and going up even easy hills forced me to revert to my mouth breathing.
Then, I thought maybe I could breath in through my nose and exhale through my mouth. That seemed to work pretty well, until I realized that it was so unnatural to me, I had to concentrate on nearly every breath.
So, as I make my comeback to biking, what’s your take on breathing? Is there a right way for cyclists to do it? Or should I just baby my throat a bit until I can breathe in and out of my mouth as usual?
Does how you breathe matter?
Having lung problems all my life, I can certainly identify with your predicament. One thing I’ve found that helps a little, when your airways are sensitive is breathing in through your mouth with your lips slightly pursed, and your tongue positioned slightly forward in your mouth, so that the inflow of air strikes the tip of your tongue; and then exhale through your nose. It seems to me as though this prevents the incoming air from striking the back of your throat, which seems to be the most sensitive place. Of course, don’t purse your lips too much, or place your tongue too far forward, or you’ll feel like you’re breathing through a straw. As far as hammering into the hills, I’m afraid you may just have to back off or suffer. You need the oxygen to build a fire, to make some horse power, and sucking wind through the old pie hole is about the most efficient way to get large quantities of it. I try to breath through my nose as much as possible to avoid losing moisture. I know I’m not saving much, but fat boys need a lot of water. If it’s cold air causing the problem, try pulling you shirt over your mouth & nose, so that you will be breathing the air near your chest — the air near your body will be slightly warmer. However, you might feel smothered doing this, and it’s not very practical. As far as shaking the bronchitis goes, it’s just going to take time, and the more you exert yourself, the longer it will take. I like the picture of you — looks like you’re enjoying yourself. It reminds me of an old joke from back in my motorcycling days: How do you tell if a motorcycle rider is happy? He has bugs stuck in his teeth. HAHA! Take care of yourself.
When it’ scold I wear a buff over my mouth, warms up the incoming air, not sure it would help in your situation though.
Why doesn’t the iPad like apostrophes? It’s cold, didn’t mean to scold!!
David Hood says
I have always heard from coaches, trainers, endurance athletes, etc. that you are supposed to inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Supposedly, it’s more efficient and keeps you from hyperventilating. It takes some focus to do this, but after awhile it becomes second nature. Seems like this would be easier on the throat as well. Hope you have a quick recovery, though, and that part won’t be an issue!
Grant Shawcroft says
If you’re intent on nose breathing, try Breathe Right strips. They’ll open the nasal passages and let you get more air. I went on an 18 mile ride today, and thinking back I have no idea how I breathed, although I have a sneaking suspicion it was pretty much through my mouth. I was pushing it pretty hard. I still cough some after a good hard ride. We’ve been in the 70s here but we have a lot of wind right now.
Grant Shawcroft says
Ok, I paid attention on my last two rides. I’m a total mouth breather. My nose just sits there on the front of my face. Who knew.