Breathing is integral to living and you may be doing it wrong!
As you’re aware if you don’t breathe you will die. We take approximately 23,000 breathes per day, every day. Now while you must be breathing as you’re reading this post right now, have you ever thought about how you’re breathing?
We criticise technique with everything else we do from writing, to driving and to exercises. Breathing is no different, there is a technique to breathing that creates an optimal pattern.
If this is not achieved then our body will change. We will limit our range of motion e.g., not being able to touch your toes or reach your arms above your head. This will impact your life subtlety until the point that you can no longer move and it affects you.
Why does this happen?
Well simply put, life.
- We get stressed
- We get injured
- We aren’t conscious about how we breathe
- We develop poor posture
- + More
Take the average office worker for example. Sitting behind a desk 5 days a week for 8 hours a day (40/hr work week). This person is in a certain position (sitting) for a prolonged period of time. As humans we have been developed to move through our predecessors thousands of years before us.
Film or watch yourself in a mirror. What you should be looking for is expansion (like a balloon inflating) around your rib cage – front, side and back.
Next, lets pay attention to how long you are breathing for. For the purpose of this test I want you to pay attention to how long you are exhaling.
Is this happening? Great!
If not? What else is moving / not moving – Look at your stomach, your chest, how deep you breathe
Are you flaring your ribs?
If so, you still aren’t breathing correctly. Chances are you have a very shallow exhale and the drill below will enable you to allow the ribs to descend down and in (like they should).
Show me how to breathe!
What we are looking for is a term I call ‘Stacking’ – simply put, we want your bones on top (stacked) on the bones below. If we look at the image below, we can see a centered rib cage on the left, where my ribcage sits directly over my hips (pelvis), which sits directly over the knee, which sits directly over the ankle.
In the image on the right compensation is occurring. The ribs are flaring upwards, causing the bones below to become ‘Unstacked’ e.g., the hips move forward past the knee, and the knee moves off centre to the ankle.
Why is this important to keep a stacked position?
Well as our bones shift and move, our muscles react by shortening and lengthening. Our muscles each have an optimal position in which they can do what there meant to do (make us move). If the bones move out of position, the muscles get placed out of position leading to compensation which may present as muscle tightness or pain, lack of energy and so on.
So… How do we breathe?
Try the steps below:
- Take a deep breath in through your nose. Now focus on the exhale, try breathing out of your mouth; imagine fogging up glass with your breath.
- While doing this try and push past the point that you would normally breathe out.
- What you should feel is your rib cage compress down and in and your stomach muscles switch on
Focusing on a quality exhalation (outward breath) allows your bones to drop down (compress).
Wow, that was a lot!
Let’s recap and keep it simple.
- We need to expand our ribcage (like a balloon) 360* degrees with each inhale.
- We need to compress our ribcage with each exhale – deep breathe out.
- We should be ‘stacked’ with majority of activities. Meaning our bones are in alignment over the bones below (think hips over knees in a standing position).
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