Athletes, get the Secret to Better Performance

athletes secret to better performanceSanta Cruz, Scotts Valley CA

Whether you are competing in a sport at a high level, or you are just a weekend warrior who participates on a recreational basis, there’s a secret to raising your A game: shut your mouth. Read on as Drs. Max and Ariana Ebrahimian explain why a closed mouth can improve your athletic performance, no matter what your field of competition may be.

Good performance starts with proper breathing

As an athlete, you probably pay attention to your form during exercise, as well as making sure you get proper nutrition, hydration, and enough rest. However, the way you breathe also plays an important role. The correct way to breathe is to do so with the mouth closed, taking shallow breaths through the nose. Nasal breaths are slower, increasing the amount of time that your cells are exposed to oxygen while also allowing the lungs to inflate all of the way. This also allows full inflation of the lung’s lower lobes, which have a direct link to the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls several involuntary factors of the body including heart rate. 

Your body also produces more nitric oxide when you breathe through the nose—an increase of up to 25 percent, as opposed to mouth breathing.

A plentiful supply of nitric oxide can benefit the mind and body in a variety of ways, including: 

  • Cognition, especially memory and learning
  • Regulated blood pressure
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Higher quality of sleep
  • Greater endurance
  • Greater physical strength
  • Improved function of the immune system

Mouth breathing can impact your game—and so much more

Just as nasal breathing has a wide range of benefits, people who breathe through the mouth primarily may experience a variety of negative consequences. Individuals who regularly mouth breathe see their orofacial system fall out of balance. This may lead to a deformation in the development of the upper jaw, especially for children and adolescents who still are growing. The possible ramifications of this jaw issue include improper swallowing problems, impeded eruption of permanent teeth, and tongue thrust. Another consequence is likely a change in the position of the tongue; rather than rest against the roof of the mouth as intended, the tongue rests on the floor of the mouth.

Poor development of the maxilla—the clinical term meaning the upper jaw—can change your appearance. Your face may be longer. The development of the eye sockets and even the eyeballs may be hindered, causing ophthalmic problems like myopia or astigmatism. An underdeveloped maxilla also means the upper dental arch will narrow, pushing back the lower jaw and placing stress on the temporomandibular joint, which connects your jaws to your skull. This may lead to TMJ disorder, causing pain in the jaws, mouth or face, and even affecting the musculature of the head and neck. 

Further ramifications include a forward head posture, as the additional strain on the musculoskeletal system makes it more difficult to properly support the weight of the skull. That posture issue can cascade down through the body, forcing the center of gravity into an undesirable forward shift. This shift, known clinically as an anterior scapular plane, may produce pain emanating from the lower back, hip, knee, or calf. Imagine how these aches and pains could affect your athletic performance, much less your ability to enjoy your day-to-day life.

Here’s how you can improve your breathing

If you notice you are breathing frequently through the mouth, you can try a couple of methods on your own. First, hold a small sip of water in your mouth and attempt to keep it there, essentially forcing yourself to breathe through your nose. You also might practice putting your tongue against the roof of your mouth two to five times per day.

Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry also can help. We offer myofunctional therapy, a method of treatment that entails performing a series of simple, painless exercises that work the muscles of the orofacial system. One of our hygienists, Jeanne Shimizu, is an experienced and trained myofunctional therapist. She can prescribe a specific set of exercises to meet your needs and re-train your body and change the way you breathe, allowing you to reap all the benefits—including superior athletic performance. Our dentists also are practitioners of Orthotropics®, a treatment method that seeks to promote ideal facial growth guidance. Using oral appliances, Orthotropics® can produce a number of successful outcomes: nasal breathing, wider dental arches, and greater balance throughout the orofacial system.

To learn more about myofunctional therapy, Orthotropics® or how Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry uses dental science to improve the whole health of our patients in Los Gatos, Santa Cruz, and Scotts Valley, contact our office today by calling  (831) 438-4411 to schedule a consultation.