Does Breathing Through a Straw Help Running?

Breathing exercises can improve running performance.
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Breathing through a straw is an old technique sometimes used by runners to develop better lung capacity. There are now various methods and devices that you can use to achieve the same goal, but breathing through a straw is easy and accessible, and works in two different ways to strengthen your breathing power.

Strengthening the Lung Muscles

You may think more about the leg muscles while running, but the respiratory muscles including the diaphragm are vitally important because they provide the oxygen that fuels running success. These muscles are worked during running, but they can also be trained more specifically. Almost any method of restricting the breathing so more force is required can strengthen these muscles – and there are several modern devices marketed for this purpose – but breathing through a straw is still perfectly effective.

Oxygen Processing

Besides increasing your ability to take in more air, there are other ways to make your lungs work more efficiently. When oxygen supply is reduced in the atmosphere, such as at high altitudes, the body creates more blood cells in the lungs to promote efficient use of the supply. Intermittent training with any method that reduces the supply of oxygen, including breathing through a straw, can help your body use oxygen as efficiently as possible, even in normal environmental conditions.


Use a standard narrow straw. Breathe through it in a relaxed, natural way, stopping only if you start to feel light-headed. Shoot for around five minutes of straw breathing if you're relatively comfortable, and repeat for up to an hour with equal periods of normal breathing between rounds. The whole exercise can be practiced once per day.


You can, however, control the flow of air further if you're not feeling challenged. Bend the straw near the end to restrict airflow even more, adjusting the amount of bend for the desired amount of resistance.

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