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Tips to help breathing when wearing a mask

breathing while wearing a mask

As we adjust to wearing mask more frequently, many of our practitioners and clients are noticing their breathing patterns have changed. No longer are they breathing through their nose, but more in through their mouth.

Breathing is one of the body’s most essential functions and with the use of masks and other face coverings, we might not be doing it as well as we would hope. Our osteopath, Nick Balic, discusses some of the reasons why it’s important to focus on your correct breathing and some tips to help you breathe more effectively while wearing a mask.

A major change in peoples breathing patterns is switching from nose breathing to mouth breathing. Some of you may not have noticed doing this at the time, but later feel the affects of breathing through your mouth.

There are a number of reasons why we want to focus on reverting back into our normal respiratory rhythm whilst using a mask:

  • Mouth breathing bypasses the sinuses which act as our body’s natural air filtering system. Micro hair cells covered in a thin mucous layer protect us from dust, pollutants, allergens, and other foreign particles that we may not want in our lungs.
  • Mouth breathing is also more commonly associated with shallower breathing. This underutilises your diaphragm – that big muscle that sits under your ribs and the primary muscle that helps you breathe.
    Underutilising your diagram over works our accessory muscles that assist it with inspiration and as a result your muscles become tender and irritated for opposite reasons. If you gently touch under your ribs, you may feel some slight tenderness and discomfort. 
  • Shallow breathing has the added detriment of poor circulation of air as we don’t use our full lung capacity. This can be linked to increased risk of respiratory tract illnesses as well as elevated levels of stress and anxiety. If you feel overwhelmed or a slight sense of panic setting in, this might be due to shallow breathing. 

A great way to check if you’re underutilising your diagram and it’s become tight and tender is with is palpitation technique. Watch the below video for instructions on what you can do at home.


How to overcome mouth breathing

To combat mouth breathing, you can use a belly breathing technique. Here’s a quick video of Nick demonstrating how to do this technique. 


  • Take a few minutes out of the day, making sure to be free of interruptions to truly focus on your body
  • Lay on your back, if possible, with your knees up (seated is also okay)
  • Place one hand on your chest and one on your belly
  • Draw your breath in through your nose all the way into your belly. Try to fill up the belly like a balloon before expanding through the chest to get the most out of our lung capacity
  • Slow let the air out of your lungs, expiring all the way and following your breath the entire way out
  • Repeat 3 times

Practice this belly breathing technique without your mask on and then with your mask to actively change our unconscious habits of mouth breathing when wearing the mask when you’re out and about. 

For more information, come chat to Nick or one of our team at Whole Body Health & Wellness. You can contact us here.