Skydiving can be the thrill of a lifetime: jumping out of an airplane from 13,000 ft, freefalling at 120+ mph, feeling the cool air rush all over you. But if this is your first time making a tandem skydive you might have one concern – can you breathe while skydiving? The answer is yes, you can absolutely breathe while skydiving. Truthfully, it’s easy! Almost as easy as you are breathing now. (You are breathing, right?)
Not being able to breathe during freefall is a common misconception and it has nothing to do with the altitude or lack of oxygen (there is plenty up there!). So take a deep breath – we’re going to explain why it might feel hard to breathe while skydiving and give you some effective breathing tips for making your first skydive!
Is It Hard to Breathe While Skydiving?
Many first-time jumpers believe that it is hard to breathe while skydiving, but we’re here to tell you that it is all in your head, literally! Your mind and body (and maybe your spirit) are in what is called sensory overload, this is especially true when the airplane door opens and it’s your turn to jump. This is the point where first-time jumpers get so overwhelmed that it is actually possible to forget to breathe. Funny/not funny, right?
Here’s something that will give you a sigh of relief: it’s easy to breathe while skydiving. Have you ever stuck your head out of a car window? It actually feels quite similar! (Maybe you can practice when you’re on the way to the dropzone.) You most definitely can breathe on the climb to altitude, when you take the leap, and in freefall – it might just take a little bit of effort.
A Hypothetical Explanation (For Your Inner Nerd)
You might be wondering what the reason could be behind this popular myth amongst first time skydivers. We believe the reaction is similar to the Dive reflex, or mammalian reflex, that occurs when we jump in cold water (talk about taking your breath away!) and is especially prevalent when teaching babies how to swim. It also occurs in babies as a survival instinct when you blow in their face, or when the amount of airflow changes such as a gust of wind in the face (like freefalling from an airplane). They will automatically stop breathing or hold their breath for a moment to assess the situation and then adjust to the new conditions. This theory could be the scientific explanation for why some people feel as though they cannot breathe during a skydive, but we don’t know for sure … we’re skydivers, not scientists!
How to Breathe While Skydiving
● When in freefall, make sure to take nice controlled breaths – in through the nose and out through the mouth.
● Remember to breathe! It may sound silly, but people can be so overwhelmed by all the new sights, sounds, and sensations that they simply forget to breathe. Also, just as important as it is to breathe in, do not forget to breathe out! Some jumpers are so focused on getting oxygen in, that they never let it go. *insert Frozen joke here*
● Scream, shout, let it out! Some skydiving instructors recommend letting out your best roar as you exit the plane. Sometimes this can jumpstart the breathing process and as a bonus, it will help you release the pent-up nerves and adrenaline flowing through your body.
● Relax! Try your best to relax and enjoy the ride (figuratively and literally). Practice taking deep breaths on the airplane while riding up to altitude. Don’t worry, you will have plenty of time to enjoy the view while flying through the big blue California sky.
All the sights, sounds, and smells of skydiving – on the ground and in the sky – can feel overwhelming. It’s totally normal for the newness of it all to take your breath away; just be mindful to not let it overtake you. Do your best to relax – and if you need help getting centered, ask! Every human at the dropzone is invested in enjoying the epic and empowering adventure of skydiving. We all want what you want, so breathe it all in!
All that’s left now is to take the leap – come jump with us!