The idea of paying attention to breathing patterns as well as training/fixing them is gathering steam in the strength and conditioning community. It’s actually been around for a while but a good chunk of coaches have started writing about them so now it’s more in the forefront of blogs now. (Troll around a bit, try Charlie Weingroff, Dean Somerset, Eric Cressey and Mike Robertson just to get an idea of what I’m talking about).
I ran across this blog post from Dean Somerset with a quick video about breathing. Watch it here. I’ll be here when you’re done. I know it’s kinda long, but it’s very worth it. Plus the rest of the post is devoted to breaking down what he says into layman’s terms so you might as well watch it.
What I got out of the video:
- Breathing affects EVERYTHING. Shoulders, neck, upper/lower back and core stability and mobility. Poor breathing patterns can lead to altered muscle tension (in necks, shoulders and lower backs. This could be a part of that nagging pain you have…) We breathe about 15,000-20,000 times a day. That’s A LOT of reps. We need to make sure we’re doing them correctly.
- Breathing from the diaphragm is important (and a lot of us don’t do it). The diaphragm is an umbrella shaped muscle and when it contracts, it pushes your organs down. This creates a large space in your lungs thus lowering the pressure. The one thing I remember from physics is that air likes to move from high pressure to low pressure. So, when there’s a lower pressure in your lungs, air whooshes in. (ha! And you that you sucked it in. Nope, it forces itself in. This blew my mind when I first learned the secrets of inhalation.)
- Diaphragms are cool and important but we also breath from our intercostals (rib muscles) and scalenes and sternocleidomastoids (neck muscles). We need to use ALL THREE. You can test yourself to see what area you breathe through best and worst. I get neck cramps during sprint work. This video helped me understand that I tend to breathe “up in my shoulders” more than my ribs or diaphragm.
- When one of these areas is impaired that’s when dysfunction (pain/injuries) occur. Harry Potter is awesome but he would never have defeated Voldemort if he didn’t have Ron and Hermione.
- Shoulder dip -> compressed lung -> less oxygen -> impaired performance and pain. Ick.
- Using breathing drills and fixing your breathing patterns a) reduces stress and tension in the body and b) increases athletic performance. Win-win in my book.
Have a wonderful weekend everyone! Post questions in the comments and perhaps I’ll try to answer the best I can.