As patients at GYBTH, you’ve probably heard Dr. Klein and I extol the virtues of breathing every day. We often talk about the patterns of breathing, and how they affect our health and performance. We often discuss breathing as the ultimate "reset"...as in, reseting your nervous system by grounding your tongue on the roof of your mouth and allowing your breath to enter your belly as effortlessly as humanly possible. The problem is, most of you can't do it right! So let's learn how to reset your breath, and if you can get this right you can bet the farm your reflexive stability will change, and thus, all other movement in your body will begin to improve over time.
The human body is so intricately wired together that the vital need to have oxygen in our blood is directly linked to our ability to pull air effortlessly into our lungs. The diaphragm's most important “movement” is the first and most significant thing you do when you come into this world. It is absolutely the greatest reset of all, and it is an incredibly important issue to address with athletes, from the playpen, to the desk, to the Major Leagues.
Renowned Sports Scientist Mel Siff was one of the first researchers to popularize the relationship between reflexive stabilization of the trunk and spine and effective breathing and breath holding. This was before a “movement-first” philosophy was employed by many trainers, therapists and doctors.
At GYBTH, we identify the breathing patterns of all of our patients and clients as part of their initial assessment, prior to creating their movement programs. If effective breathing patterns are a key component to high performance sport and living, then ineffective breathing patterns will certainly perpetuate dysfunction that may lead to injury up and down the kinetic chain.
One of the simplest tests we can use is a visual assessment of deep breathing. Ideally, in an effective diaphragmatic breath, we want to see an expanded abdominal region, both anteriorly and laterally, all before any expansion of the ribcage (think: expand your belly all around your body). Unfortunately, more often than not, we see compromised breathing patterns. Instead of seeing the abdomen expand with inhalation, it appears to hollow, and the anterior chest wall elevates first. In these cases, the diaphragm is ineffective as a breathing muscle and accessory breathing muscles become your primary breathing muscles. These accessory muscles are also called "emergency" breathing muscles, because they are only supposed to activate under stress, and demand. For example, have you ever seen a baby breathe? Take a look. If they're relaxed and happy, they breathe with their belly...but if they're about to start crying, guess what? That's right, they use the emergency mucles (i.e. levator scapula, upper trapezius) for the extra help.
Over time this can lead to back pain, neck pain, shoulder, and even lower extremity issues.
Watch this video that we created to demonstrate proper breathing mechanics...
If you're breathing reflexively on a daily basis you may notice the following benefits:
- less stress
- more energy
- better posture
- less lower back pain
- less overall stiffness
- healthier overall being!
So here's a challenge this week: SLOW DOWN AND BREATH. Pick a spot and lie down on the ground, relax, and breathe...for 5 minutes, or even 10. Keep your eyes open, relax your head or roll it from side to side. Listen to your body, place your tongue on the roof of your mouth, and breathe into your belly. Feel relaxed? Good, keep breathing ;). If you want to learn more check out a Pressing Reset Workshop November 11th right here at our offices in DC!