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The Nose Knows

The Nose Knows

Jimmy Durante was born in 1893 and died in 1980, he was a comedian, singer, pianist and an actor.  If you grew up in his era you knew “The world’s most famous comedian. “Jimmy taught us the nose was a “Schnozzola”,  he sang his trademark song “Inka Dinka Doo” and there wasn’t a kid around that didn’t mimick his saying “Ha-cha-cha-cha”.  Durante had a famous phrase that is also fitting in the world of physiology….. “The Nose Knows”.


Nasal Mucosa

Most breathe through their nose at rest.  As the air enters our nasal cavity it suddenly must take a sharp turn and then downward decent toward our lungs.  These sudden turns are important as it causes turbulence and slows the airflow.  In the quarter second that this occurs, because of turbulence, as the air descends into our system, the mucosa (type of tissue that lines the nasal cavity), permits the exchange of heat and water.  Environmentally, we are exposed to a variety of extreme temperatures, the mucosa acts the way coils function in air conditioners and heaters.  Humans like to keep the humidity about 75-80% and the temp at 98.6 degrees when they breathe in air.

When we move from rest to running, if we keep our mouth closed and try to achieve the 40 breaths per minute it takes to sustain an elite athlete, it becomes excruciatingly uncomfortable and we are forced to open our mouths…. The nose knows.

This pain is because the air becomes much more turbulent and resistant to flow, changing the pathway by opening the mouth brings relief.  For fun go out and run as hard and long as you can with your mouth shut, feel the discomfort then feel the relief.

Oral breathing during activity also helps with thermoregulation by dumping heat. The dumping of heat also speeds up water loss, which is the good and bad of comfort.

Kids running

Make sure your young athletes who are involved in organized running open their mouths as the begin to compete.  Often many youngsters don’t and dislike the discomfort the initial phases of running always causes them.

Breathing techniquesCoaches warn athletes about alcohol and performance. Alcohol and snoring are often synonymous.  Snoring is caused by vibrations of the soft tissues of the pharynx such as the soft palate and constrictor muscles.  For snoring not to occur the tissues must be relaxed.  Alcohol has a depressant effect on the upper airway musculature rendering the upper airway more collapsible causing more turbulence.  Alcohol then impedes the ability of central nervous system to arouse the body to sufficiently resume increased breathing for the increased turbulence.  The bottom line is that athletes who use alcohol do not rest before performance and do not grow well after activity.

The nose knows how to Get Strong.

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