Why even talk about breathing?
It is entirely understandable that anyone would consider the title of this post to sound absolutely absurd. I get it, I used to think the same thing. However, my skepticism was challenged as I began researching the topic and discovered the magic behind breathing techniques. The benefits of breathing techniques are not to be dismissed or overlooked in the physical therapy and fitness world. By manipulating the pressure we naturally build within our body by breathing, we are able control the way we expend that pressure within our body to better control our body’s positions and adapt our moving patterns.
As a result of global research diving into this area, both the Postural Restoration Institute and the Dynamic Neuromotor Stabilization Institute have adapted their health and fitness programs to include breathing techniques into their course curriculum. Entry level personal training certification programs are also adding these techniques into their program requirements.
But I have a feeling I know what you’re thinking: “I’m alive, so I must be breathing okay.”
My answer to that thought is….. you’re right! You are breathing just fine if you’re comfortable doing it. But there is a paradigm shift in how we teach clients how to hold their body while exercising and completing daily activities.
I want to highlight the hottest breathing topics in the fitness industry right now.
- We should typically be taking approximately 10-15 breathes a minute when sitting quietly. There are many things that can cause an individual to not never be able to breathe this slowly, usually anatomical or diseases like COPD. However, by hyperventilating (breathing faster than 15 in a minute while sitting quietly) the Kidney’s have to work hard to make due for blowing off too much CO2, and usually results in worsening sensations of feeling out of breath. Often this can just be a habit some people have.
- Various aches and pains have contribution from breathing without ideal diaphragm positioning. We’ve noticed that many patient’s and client’s have a tendency to breathe only using chest lifting (chest breather as opposed to belly breather). By using the upper chest and neck muscles to take every breath, it can lead to overloaded structures in the upper body due to the fact we take between 17,000 and 23,000 breaths a day. The diaphragm is super efficient when positioned in different ways to help us with breathing.
- We are trying to bust the old myth of “stand up straight, pull your shoulders back, and squeeze your stomach.” This is an old saying our parents and teachers would tell us, and it’s a position we still see models and soldiers take all the time. The problem is, if this is the only position you take, then it becomes very difficult to try and breathe in different directions which will usually lead to an overloaded structures in the lower back.
- Athletes are getting hurt less and improving performance by understanding how to use their breath and core in different ways. Lebron James and Steph Curry are 2 big time athletes that have shared their stories of rehab and training to show the difference breathing and core work make their life. Lebron at 30 was having lower back pain that was preventing him from playing, but was referred to an amazing trainer/ therapist back down in Miami and came back to not miss a game due to injury for another 4 years!
A Huge Success Story!
Steph Curry had multiple ankle injuries and surgeries before getting referred to a movement coach that helped him utilize his core better to stop overloading his ankles while playing basketball.
This blog is not meant to be specific advice for anyone, because each patient and client benefits from a thorough movement exam. These are just topics of conversation and debate in the movement industry that are helping to improve outcomes for patients.
If you’re searching for a Therapist or Clinician that is familiar with breathing/ core strategies, you may want a professional that is familiar with some of the teaching from the below listed organizations.