Box Breathing for Better Performance

Dr. Abby Perone-

In sports, we often think about our physical form or strategies to optimize performance, like:

  1. Where does my foot strike in my running gait?
  2. I’m going to make sure to run a negative split.
  3. I need to fuel at mile 8 in the half marathon

There is a massive stone in the realm of performance that can unlock greater potential and the question is: how am I breathing?

The truth is most of us think very little of how we breathe throughout the day or when we are performing. Breathing is an involuntary movement we rely on, but the challenge is to be mindful of our breath.

The benefits of mindful box breathing include:

  1. Calming the nervous system
  2. An opportunity increased mindfulness and visualization for your race
  3. Retraining your breath muscle memory
  4. Strengthens diaphragmatic breathing
  5. Decreases shallow breathing
  6. Eases insomnia
  7. Improves oxygenation of the body

To perform a box breath, it is simple if you dedicate 2 minutes when you wake up in the morning and at night before bed.

Step 1: Breathe in, counting to four slowly. Feel the air enter the lower portion of your lungs and allow the lungs to fill slowly within the four count

Step 2: Hold your breath on the inhale for four seconds. Try to avoid straining your neck muscles. The goal is to remain calm and relaxed.

Step 3: Slowly exhale through your mouth for 4 seconds.

Step 4: Hold your breath in the exhale for four seconds.

Step 5: Repeat steps one through four until you’ve accumulated 1-2 minutes of box breathing practice.

When we breathe well, we perform well. When we perform well, we are breathing well because, in the words of Belinda Vranich, Your body’s main source of energy is oxygen. Period.

Happy breathing!

Abby Torrance, DC, CES, CF-L1, US RockTape Instructor