I have seen breathing all over social media lately, and it has been a whole chapter in the courses i have been doing online (i am always doing one course or another!). I also saw a wonderful series of posts by one of our favorite local physio’s Activate Physio for Women on breathing, and thought i would join in on the conversation!
Breathing is so important! It seems like such a small thing, because we rarely think about it, but think about it now… what happens if you don’t breath?? Less than optimal breathing patterns can contribute to a wide range of dysfunctions. Shallow breathing, for example, can overload your neck and upper back muscles and contribute to neck pain and headaches. It can also mean you NEVER get an optimal breath, which means you’re always existing in a less-than-fully-oxygenated state.
In the gym, we assess for 3 main breathing patterns:
- Shallow, chesty breath
- Belly breathing
- Intercostal breath
The intercostal breath is ideal, because the ribs move and accommodate the increased volume caused by breathing in. This has a knock-on effect of reducing loads on the pelvic floor and increasing the mobility of the thoracic spine! If someone shallow-breaths, they’re often experiencing chronic stress, and neck and shoulder pain. They’ll be “block-like” throughout their torso and this means that when their lungs fill with air, the internal organs are pushed down, not out.
Belly breathing isn’t ideal because… where are your lungs located???? Not in your guts! If your belly is distending every breath, you’re lengthening the tissue between your abdominal’s every breath. If you have a pre-existing diastasis (separation), this will exacerbate it, or in the very least slow it’s healing post birth*.
So we have mentioned the physiological benefits of breathing above, but what about the mental, hormonal, and other health benefits from being able to breath? Deep breaths can quell your stress response – boosting your immune, increasing feelings of well being, and staving off depression! In the very least, this will help your client train better, and feel better about coming to training, which is pretty good for business! Reducing stress also reduces associated hormones, which can help your clients lose weight. Good breathing foundations will help your clients lift healthily, safely, feel better, and lose weight… pretty important, huh?
If you have any of the symptoms above, make sure you book in with a women’s heath physio to get EVERYTHING pelvic checked, including your breathing! You can look up your local one here. You can book in for a FREE assessment with us here!
If you’re a personal trainer, you can do a whole course on Breathing Better here. You can read more on why the breath must come first with your training here (and send that link to your trainer if you’re a mum!). Breathing assessments are included in our Modern Post Natal Assessment and Exercise course, which we deliver throughout Australia and New Zealand live, or virtually online.
*Just a note on this point. When you breathe in your organs descend to accommodate the air volume in your lungs. It is normal for your belly to rise or distend a little, what we are screening for here is when it’s being forceably pushed out.