‘The importance of breathing’. What a stupid thing to write an article on, I hear you say!
Well, you’re not entirely wrong. Breathing is an automatic process. If we don’t breathe we die. So that pretty much sums the article up……..
Now the reason for this article is to promote a more trained breathing pattern. Enter the act of Diaphragmatic (abdominal) breathing.
The key to breathing is the diaphragm which is depicted below.
Now I won’t go into the details of the diaphragm buts let’s just says it’s the big boy of breathing. Located at the bottom of the lungs, it controls your inhalation, exhalation AND can be controlled voluntarily. Which means that it can be trained. BOOM!!
- Inhalation: Air is drawn in, ribcage expands, diaphragm contracts and moves down forcing the abdominal wall out – hence the belly breathing term that is often associated with diaphragmatic breathing
- Exhalation: The diaphragm relaxes, abdominal wall flatters, air passes out the lungs. Notice the more abdominal pressure you add the quicker you can exhale. Shows the importance of the ‘belly’
The Benefits of Diaphragmatic Breathing
- Strengthens the diaphragm.
- Promotes less energy use through controlled breathing.
- Aids the regeneration process as it’s the relaxed method of breathing during sleep.
- A relaxed form of breathing, as opposed to the quick style ‘panic’ breathing that often is involved in a stressful situation. Panicked breathing then leads to all the crap that stress brings along with it. Anxiety, palpitations, chest pains and all that other lovely stuff.
- Promotes performance. If we look at it from a purely training perspective, every lift involves the breathing process. Do you think you will perform better if you can control your breathing? Do you think you’ll be able to squat more, deadlift more, lift more in general if you have a correct breathing strategy? Yes… Absolutely!!
Here are my two favourite types of diaphragmatic breathing:
- Start in the supine position – flat on your back
- Pop your legs up to 90 degrees with your feet on the wall
- Neutral spine position here (head, neck, upper and lower back)
- We should be thinking ‘comfortable’
- Place your hands on your chest, and one on your stomach (abdomen)
- Mouth closed, take a breath in through your nose.
- Slooooooow – take about 4 seconds to inhale.
- Fill your belly full of air, and then pause for a brief 3-second hold.
- Reverse this on the exhale – again through your nose for 4 seconds.
- Add another pause once exhaled.
- Rinse and repeat.
Remember you are filling that belly full of air – the hands are there to reinforce this.
- Starting in the face-down, prone position.
- The forehead is placed on your forearms.
- In a completely relaxed position.
- Keeping as flat as possible.
Now this version works better with a partner as you have an added lateral expansion element which can really be amplified with a coaching aid. That being said there’s nothing stopping you banging it out yourself!
- Now copy the above 90/90 procedure.
- This time your belly should expand into the floor.
- The focus is placed on the lateral abdomen (just above the pelvis).
There we have it, your basic guide to breathing. Do not underestimate this!
Be ready for anything,
Author - Luke Sale - Head Coach & Mentor
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