Why You Should Give a Crap about Breathing and Corrective Exercise
Today I want to talk about two very important topics in regards to health and fitness: breathing and corrective exercise. These are two subjects that, if you’ve ever trained at Complete Fitness Results, you know are the foundation of all our programs.
The Function and Dysfunction of Breathing
When it comes to breathing, it’s the single most important function of the body, and it affects EVERYTHING that we do at a conscious and subconscious level. Unfortunately, most people don’t realize they have dysfunctional breathing patterns, but they do, and this can cause a heaping number of issues. Some of the most common issues are bad posture, breakdown of joints, core stability deficiency, pain in extremities, as well as neck, shoulders, back, hips, knees, ankles and more. Breathing is SO important that your body will sacrifice good posture and other parts of the body to make room for oxygen.
Additionally, beyond the musculoskeletal system, breathing also highly affects the nervous system which is made up of the brain, spinal cord and sensory organs. Altered breathing patterns can cause the body to go into “fight-or-flight” mode, physiologically causing stress and anxiety which can lead to depression. Altered breathing patterns can make exercise, diet and even meditation less effective, and in some cases, even worthless.
Learn how to give your body what it needs to function most efficiently, effectively, and optimally by reading the “proper breathing” tips below:
- Your throat, neck, and traps should be minimally or not at all involved in breathing. Breathing should come from trunk, not your face.
- If you are using the help of your neck and shoulder muscles to breathe, they’re no longer doing whatever they are supposed to be doing.
- Proper breathing causes an autonomic shift towards a parasympathetic (rest and digest) state. This will allow you to get better results from exercise, increased brain function, better digestion, relaxation and an overall greater sense of well-being.
- If you are holding a position, you should be able to take a deep breath and maintain that position without shaking, moving, or seeing anything move except for your belly and ribcage.
- Breathing can help align your body into a good starting posture.
We want to see people achieve silent nasal breathing for 3-4 seconds in and 6-8 out for at least 5 or 6 breaths before we say they can breathe in that position.
To learn more about what we’re looking for when it comes to proper breathing, check out this 3 minute video: https://youtu.be/whfB98E9wbI
Breathing and Exercise
Breathing is the first thing we learn to do in life and is the foundation for solid posture and clean movement, which is why we dial in on this mechanism before we begin exercising.
Chances are if breathing is dysfunctional, something else is dysfunctional too. That’s why it’s important to check breathing patterns in every developmental position (from the ground up) before we train in that position.
The developmental positions and movements that we look at when re-building a client are:
- Supine position (on your back)
- Prone position (on your belly)
- Rolling (transitioning from back to belly or vice versa)
- Quadruped Position (on all fours)
- Prone 2 Position (hold the top of the push up / push up plank)
- Kneeling Position (one knee and both knees down)
- Turkish Get Up (how to get up from the floor to standing)
- Standing (bilateral, split, and stride stance)
The Gold Standard of a Two Year Old
We are hardwired with a system from birth that allows us to breathe and move properly–it is not developed by a trainer, chiro or physical therapist etc.
Movement patterns and sequences are already there, but you wouldn’t expect a baby to run before he crawls, would you? Likewise, we wouldn’t expect you to press weight overhead if your posture and breathing is compromised as soon as your arm goes over your head.
Naturally, 2-year olds just move better than us; they’re not sitting at computers or staring at mobile devices all day, and they don’t get stressed out and tense over money and so-called “real world” problems. Not only are they the best at moving and breathing, but we also admire their level of curiosity and sense of wonder–we could learn a lot from a 2-year old.
How to Test the Gold Standard
The Functional Movement Screening (FMS) allows us to see if there’s breathing and/or movement dysfunction–which 99% of people have–that could cause the body to break down quicker. With that knowledge, we’re able to intervene and prevent or fix things that breakdown through breathing and corrective exercise.
If you think about it, we’re not really learning anything new–we’re remembering how to breathe/move like we should, and that makes life easier and more effective.
There are a multitude of ways corrective exercise can be done. Whichever corrective(s) you’ve been assigned should be practiced daily until the functional movement pattern is adapted. It is only when that happens you can truly progress to the next level and restore your fitness and health.