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Mouth taping improved my on-field performance: Harmanpreet Kaur
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Mouth taping improved my on-field performance: Harmanpreet Kaur

Based on her trainer’s advice, Harmanpreet started practicing the technique to change her habit of breathing through the mouth
Mouth taping changed Harmanpreet's habit of breathing through her mouth, which improved her on-field performance
Mouth taping improved Harmanpreet Kaur’s sleep quality, contributing to better performance on the field. (Photo by INDRANIL MUKHERJEE / AFP)

In the world of sports, every little detail can have a significant impact on performance, be it positive or negative. For the longest time, Harmanpreet Kaur (34), captain of the Indian women’s cricket team, didn’t realize she was a mouth breather, which contributed to issues like stiffness and disturbed sleep. However, all such problems faded when she came across a technique called mouth taping. It transformed her breathing pattern, enhancing her overall performance.

Introduction to mouth taping

“During my childhood, I used to get allergies very often due to dust and cold; my nose was blocked most of the time,” shared Kaur in a conversation with Happiest Health. Honored with the Arjuna Award in 2017 for her contribution to the sport, Kaur developed the habit of breathing through her mouth due to the nasal blockage, which extended beyond childhood.

As is the case with any athlete, Kaur underwent rigorous training and recovery methods like stretches and ice baths, among others. But despite all that, the stiffness in her body never seemed to go away. “I had to put in extra effort to warm-up, as I used to wake up in the morning with stiffness in my neck, shoulder and back,” she said.

A couple of years ago, Kaur’s trainers noticed her mouth breathing during physical screening tests. Concerned about its potential impact on performance, Sagar Diwan, her personal trainer, introduced her to mouth taping — a practice where one tapes their mouth shut while sleeping, encouraging them to breathe through the nose.

‘Changing my habit was challenging’

Trying the technique for the first time was a challenging experience for Kaur; she took the tape off after two hours as she was not able to sleep. “Initially, it was extremely challenging to change my habit. Taping my mouth felt suffocating, to say the least. I felt like someone was pressing my throat, and I couldn’t breathe,” she recalled. “However, I continued the technique for half an hour to get used to it. Now, if I tape my mouth and sleep, I don’t feel anything at all.” As the saying goes, ‘practice makes perfect,’ she didn’t even realize that what started as half an hour gradually turned into seven to eight hours of restful sleep.

New breathing pattern improved performance

Mouth taping ended up giving Kaur a newfound sense of relaxation. It encouraged conscious nasal breathing, which enhanced her focus and improved her performance. The new breathing pattern facilitated better oxygen filtration, which alleviated her severe menstrual cramps as well. Highlighting the transformative effects of the technique, she shared, “Taping my mouth helped me sleep better, and I started to wake up feeling fresh. My stiffness was gone, and I started using my core properly.”

Patience is key

Suggesting a gradual approach, Kaur said, “Although the journey isn’t a smooth one, starting slowly can help.” Therefore, before incorporating mouth taping into the nighttime routine, one should first start during the day when they’re fully conscious — while walking, reading, watching television or using a computer.

According to her, starting with short durations like 10–15 minutes will allow individuals to adapt to the change gradually. Once the body gets accustomed, she advises extending the practice to bedtime. She believes that when practiced consistently, this stepwise approach can yield noticeable results within one to two weeks.

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