Ever gasped for air as a fish out of water midway through a workout or taken more breaks than you wished to catch your breath?
It happens to the best of us and while some athletes have naturally better lung capacity than others, the good news is that everyone can work on boosting their breathing for better performance and recovery thanks to diaphragmatic breathing.
WHAT IS DIAPHRAGMATIC BREATHING
Let’s locate the diaphragm first. The respiratory diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle located just below the lungs and heart. It contracts continually as you breathe in and out.
The diaphragm is connected to abdominal muscles and can only move as much as they allow. If your abs are constantly tight, the diaphragm can’t go through its range of motion. When you breathe in and your belly expands, your diaphragm contracts, allowing space in your chest cavity for the lungs to fill.
Breathing out moves the diaphragm back to its original position. With shallow chest breathing, you aren’t making as much room and can’t fill your lungs as much as when you take a deep belly breath.
Do not confuse diaphragmatic breathing with belly breathing though. The key to proper diaphragmatic breathing is what can be called as 360 breathing. You need to obtain a 360 degrees of abdominal expansion – forward, backward, and side-to-side – without too much upward movement of the chest.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING WORKOUTS
As the intensity of the workout increases, we tend for less diaphragmatic breathing and more thoracic or “chest” breathing. The latest can become problematic as involves the use of accessory muscles such as the upper traps and many neck muscles. The over-use of these muscles can cause postural and motor control issues, especially in the neck and shoulders.
When we concentrate on switching to diaphragmatic breathing instead, our big breathes become more effective and we become more efficient in our CrossFit and weightlifting workouts.
HOW TO ACHIEVE BETTER BREATHING
Not only we need to practice diaphragmatic breathing, but we also need to consolidate two more abilities to achieve better performance and results.
The first thing to concentrate on is synchronisation with movement. We need to synchronise our “deep belly” breathing with any kind of performance.
Let’s think of deadlift. We will need to take a deep breath in during the most difficult part o the lift, which is the initiation. This helps us stabilise our core and minimize excessive spinal motion as well as taking in more air during the movement. You can then hold your breath throughout the lift or slowly exhale until the barbell touches the ground. Another good example is thrusters when it’s important to exhale in rhythm at the top of the lift.
Once we perfect our breathing synchronisation with movement, we will need to maximise the total amount of air we breath in and out during the workouts, during breaks and afterwards. This means mining chest breathing and allowing the most oxygen intake and carbon dioxide output at all times.
STRONGER CORE AND LESS STRESS
At Andfit we not only teach you proper technique but also ways to better your performance and one key point is definitely breathing. Once you master diaphragmatic breathing, you will notice you will feel more energy during workouts and will improve your results over time.
In addition, diaphragmatic breathing also has a series of other benefits including lowering your stress levels, reducing your blood pressure, and regulating other important bodily processes. It’s not a case it’s the basis for almost all meditation or relaxation techniques.
So let’s get our diaphragm work for us. After all, it’s a muscle and can be trained like any other muscles in our body. The more we use it properly, the better it will get with time and the better we will feel.
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