Just Breathe (with John Shamansky)

I was talking to one of my trainers, John the other day and we got on the topic of breathing.

People really don’t understand how much of a difference breathing makes, especially when you go from full, deep breaths to shallow, partial breaths.

“Everyone takes breathing for granted,” says John during our conversation, which led to important information regarding the core and core training.

“The core has two main functions, the core has the function of anchoring the rib cage down to the pelvis and it also has the function of exhalation.”

How does breathing affect your core?

John continues to say, “If you look at any other part of the body you’re going to have muscles surrounded by joints supported by bones. When you look at the core and the diaphragm specifically, what do you have supporting that?”

“A flimsy rib cage and a flimsy spine. If you’re not training the core to it’s fullest extent, you’re not only not training your core, but your body is going to find other ways to breathe that are going to cause problems in the kinetic chain.”

Training proper breathing and bracing is important, like mentioned in my article How To Brace Your Core!, “If the core is not tight, stable and sealed it will leak the pressure to surrounding muscles.”

So what do you do?

The simple answer would be to learn how to properly breathe; allow for your diaphragm to drop down when inhaling and stop using musculature in the upper torso / neck.

For most, this is a daunting task with a big “where do I start?” That’s why I documented my conversation with John.

“Sitting isn’t the best way to be breathing,” says John, and he’s right! When sitting at a desk most people’s posture goes down the drain.

The easiest way to teach someone how to breathe again is start on the floor, lying on your back. This allows for you to see where the movement is physically and visibly coming from.

Lie on your back with your knees bent and heels comfortably as close to your butt as possible.

Starting in this position will be the easiest way to start. It allows for the body to be supported, the knee tuck puts the pelvis into a good spot and you will be able to remain relaxed.

Constant stress creates dysfunction in breathing patterns, therefore getting into a comfortable or relaxed position is the best place to start.

Begin by breathing in slowly through your nose until you can’t take in anymore oxygen, then briefly hold your breath. What moved when you did that?

For a lot of people, the ribs inflate before the stomach, which is quite the contrary to what you want happening.

Think of your body as a glass of water, every bit of oxygen you take in is another splash of water in the torso. You want the glass to fill from the bottom to the top, meaning the stomach should expand first and then the ribs should expand and elevate with air.

Working on this will help more than just breathing.

When it comes to proper breathing, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t just feel good to take in a deep, full breath, it’s healthy too!

Breathing into your belly can reduce stress, keeping you away from using the muscles in your neck and upper ribcage.

When you get into a “fight or flight” mode your upper rib and upper neck will be recruited for more forceful and quick breathing. However, you don’t want to be in that physical state often because it will continue to secrete awful hormones like cortisol through the body (I’ll write more on cortisol in a later article).

Proper breathing can also improve your ability to brace your core which can drastically improve your ability to lift weights or objects while minimizing your risk of injury.

Properly bracing can be the difference between a thrown out back and an incredibly strong core that will support your back. Which sounds more appealing to you?

Hopefully this article helps you.

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