why does keeping our hands on our knees help us regain our breathing faster when you run?

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why does keeping our hands on our knees help us regain our breathing faster when you run?

In: Biology

It doesn’t, but it feels good. We are exhausted, and our muscles holding us upright are also helping us breathe. Putting our hands on our knees relieves some of that pressure. But, our ability to regain our normal breathing pattern has more to do with internal mechanisms, not necessarily an optimal angle. Be in a position that feels good, helps you take deep, steady breaths, and doesn’t make you light headed.

Usually, you inhale by flexing your diaphragm and exhale by passively relaxing it. This expands the space inside thorax drawing air in, then as the diaphragm goes back to its initial dome shape, the space is restored, so the air is pushed out. However, we have many other inhalation and exhalation muscles that you can recruit for faster or deeper breathing. When you undergo intense exercise, your body’s metabolic rate is quite high and the oxygen demand follows, and so you need to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide as fast as possible. One way to do this is shallow rapid breathing, and the diaphragm isn’t good for that because it expands the ribcage from the bottom and is slow at relaxing, making you take deep slow breaths. So you begin to engage in Clavicular breathing where you depend on upper muscles that pull the ribcage up while anchoring on the shoulders. This expands the upper lobes of the lungs (very shallow) and can be rapid, however, due to the anatomical positioning of these muscles, it would help to have the shoulders themselves hinging on something other than your spine, so you put your hands on your knees hinging them on the tibia bones and hence the ground. This allows you to do clavicular breathing more easily to catch your breath. You can also do that by putting your hands on a table, people with asthma do this all the time, but for some other reasons too (to facilitate exhalation in the face of decreased bronchiole radius).

EMT student here:
It actually has less to do with where your arms are and more to do with the position you are in. When people have trouble breathing they tend to go straight to the tripod position, a common position that pulls your epiglottis and tongue away from your trachea, allowing more room for air to travel. We are instructed to assist unresponsive patients by performing a [head tilt chin lift](https://images.app.goo.gl/W4YF6pEBXTq8Uk8r8) or if they have a neck/cervical spine injury, a [jaw thrust](https://images.app.goo.gl/MuYg9hEMhNE3crjT7) which has the same effect. The head tilt-chin lift maneuver is basically what is happening when runners put their hands on their knees and look up like [this](https://images.app.goo.gl/xmQRX8nzkmMZSn5p7).

TL;DR- it puts you in a position that makes your airpipe wider