Shortness of Breath Due to Elevation


Traveling to different terrains to compete is a common occurrence. That also means that there is often rapid elevation change. Even well trained athletes will suffer from elevation shortness of breath if they have lived in low elevation areas. 

As the trail driver one of the items that you can give your team is tools to manage their breath in an elevation situation. This is where it will be helpful to understand  yoga breaths and why elevation feels so different. 

Like asthma, one of the big misunderstandings about shortness of breath is that they think it’s about not getting enough breath IN, but it’s actually about not getting enough breath OUT! 

A few breathing technics will help refocus the athlete on measured breath – three quick breaths in through the nose and one long breath out that is measured. As soon as that athlete starts feeling the tension of their shoulders rise and their lungs start to ache they should move instantly to measured breath. 

The longer it takes them to recognize their elevation tension around breath the more it will move the tension from just the front area into their upper back and stomach. 

Interval breath on an elevation run will help reduce the stress overall and is a great tool for trail drivers to remind their athletes to use. 

Trail drivers are not just assistance on the road helping an athletic individual or team get to their goal, a trail driver is a lifeline that will help during a time that is strenuous, difficult, and when most people are not thinking clearly because they are just focused on getting to a goal or a finish line. 

The signs to watch for in your athlete that they are having elevation breathing issues is their shoulders start to get tense up towards their ears.  Or they start punching towards the center of their chest while they’re breathing. 

Raising their hands over their head and having them manage their breathing will automatically force their shoulders down and allow them to breathe with instant relief.

Trail well. 

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