First off, we would like to take the time to send out a HUGE thank you to Vin and Matt for their time with us this semester. It was a pleasure getting to know you both and we greatly appreciate the help you gave us. They have both now completed their semester long internship with us. Time flies when you're having fun!
We would like to wish Matt the best of luck this summer as he heads into his senior year at UMass Amherst. You've got great things ahead of you and I'm sure it won't be the last time we hear from Matt.
Vin will be graduating from Springfield College this week and then will RETURN to Train for Life to join us as a full-time coach so you will see him again very soon!
Again, we thank you both for your time and commitment to us at Train for Life! Here's a short article they put together on some of the WHY's behind breathing.
You hear your coaches at TFL stress it all the time, proper breathing. Every coach stresses it when going through each workout, “remember to breath” or more specifically “inhale as you ______ then exhale as you _______.” (Think EXhale, EXert!)
But are you breathing properly? Do you know why it’s so important to breathe properly? Is improper breathing hindering your goals?
The average human takes more than 20,000 breaths per day! That should be enough incentive right there to make sure that you are breathing properly. If you are doing anything 20,000+ times per day you should make sure that you are doing it correctly. Proper breathing is a lot easier said than done, some people have the mindset that as long as they’re conscious and functioning they must be breathing correctly. This does mean that they are in fact alive and breathing, but it does not mean they are breathing properly! Proper diaphragmatic breathing actives your core musculature by increasing intra-abdominal pressure in order to remain stable while moving.
Here are a couple common faults that often occur when it comes to breathing, if you fall into one or more of these categories then you should pay extra attention to correct these.
1) Neck Breathing
Right now take a nice deep breath in…… Did you lift your chin up at all? If you did you are a neck breathing. First off, this type of breathing is probably going to cause neck and shoulder pain, does that seem like a neutral neck position??? NO, our coaches have always stressed, “Tuck your chin or create a double chin.” And secondly, this type of breathing not to allow you to fill your lungs with enough air which will reduce intra-abdominal pressure.
2) Paradoxical Breathing
Go ahead and take another deep breath and hold it in for a couple seconds…. Where did all that air go? Are your ribs now flared out and your core is sucked in? Now go ahead and exhale and hold it there…. Is your core now pushed out with a curve in your lower back? If this is the case you are a paradoxical breather. You have now put yourself in an unstable and inefficient position by using your neck and upper chest muscles to breathe instead of using your diaphragm and core muscles. This type of breathing constantly puts you in a position of lower back extension which can lead to lower back pain and tight hip flexors.
3) Shallow Breathing
Now I want you to think about doing some deadlifts. Imagine doing five deadlifts and how your breathing would correspond to those five deadlifts. After you do this a couple times think about this, how long did you inhale and how long did you exhale? If you noticed both were about one second or less each then your breathing is probably too shallow. In order to fill your lungs with enough air to create enough intra-abdominal pressure, your inhalation should take a couple seconds and then your exhalation should take about twice as a long as that.
Alright now that we’ve gone over a couple different faulty breathing patterns, let’s go over how to breathe properly.
The goal of when you breathe should be to create as much intra-abdominal pressure as possible. A lot of the same muscles you use to breathe are the same ones that are used to stabilize your core. By breathing properly you can effectively activate your core muscles to keep a stable trunk.
THE INHALE: start off your proper deep breath by inhaling through your nose. REMEMBER: keep your chin tucked through the entire inhalation and exhalation. As you inhale you should think about filling up your entire trunk with air. If you were to have a rubber band around both your entire abdominal area AND your chest and back they would both continue to stretch as you inhale. This will cause your diaphragm to push down and your abdominals to expand. Once you have fully inhaled, your trunk should be expanded and very stable.
THE EXHALE: exhale by pursing your lips like you’re blowing a balloon and using your core to push ALL of the air out of your entire trunk. The exhalation should take about twice as long as the inhalation, it will be like you are letting air out of a tire. By using your core muscles to push your diaphragm back up and force air out your lungs, you will continue to activate your core to keep your trunk stable.
PRACTICE this a couple times looking in a mirror while standing up with your hands on your stomach. As you inhale watch and feel your entire midsection expand. You should notice, your stomach and lower back expand as well as your chest and mid / upper back expand. Now as you exhale using your abdominals, you should feel tension as all of the air is pushed out of your trunk.
So why is this important?
Right now we’re going to break down how proper breathing relates to the three parts of the TFL motto.
MOVE WELL – Breathing properly is going increase core stabilization which then lead to improved movement. If you have ever tried doing any type of heavy squat, deadlift, press, or pull without an active and stable core you know it doesn’t go very well. Having an active core during all of these movements will reduce your chance for injury and in particular, lower back pain.
BE STRONG – At TFL you are constantly asked to challenge yourself! If it does not CHALLENGE you it will not CHANGE you. If you plan on trying to pick up something heavy up without an active and stable core you will find it very difficult and inefficient. If all it takes is proper breathing to get stronger why wouldn’t you do it?
ENJOY LIFE - As mentioned before, if you are breathing 20,000+ times a day don’t you think you should do it properly? And remember, it’s just breathing; no one is asking you to completely switch your diet, your job, or routine around. If you can improve your movement quality, become stronger, and enjoy life better by simply breathing, why wouldn’t you do it?