Let's Talk Breathing
Breathing is something that comes naturally to us, right? We don't have to think about it. We breathe quickly when we need more oxygen and slower when we are sleeping, but is there more than meets the eye? Ask a singer what the most important part of great phrasing or timbre is, and they'll tell you: great breath control. Without great breath control, you can't sustain a great sound. Similarly, ask an endurance athlete and they'll tout the importance of breathing mechanics and awareness. The list goes on for quite some time about the importance of breathing in these specific activities.
Why is breathing so important? Most of our body's functions are directly or indirectly affected by our rate or patterns of breathing. Our breathing patterns have a real effect on our circulation, stress levels, pH balance, and mood. Most people wouldn't think twice about breathing and would just take it as a subconscious process that our body does naturally.
What can we do about it? We have the ability to practice breathing patterns with specific movements. Breathing patterns can consist of when to inhale, how long to hold for, what areas to focus on pressure, and how long to release. The diaphragm plays an integral role in the development of breathing habits, among many other things. The diaphragm is a muscle that works in conjunction with other muscles, like the abdominal or intercostal muscles, to support proper posture, aid in digestion, and regulate the pattern and strength of breathing.
During workouts, each movement should have its own proper breathing mechanics to support all these functions. To fully understand a movement like the deadlift, Romanian deadlift, bench press, hack squat, or any variation, you must understand the breathing. These are techniques we teach during personal training sessions, and they dramatically improve the mind-muscle connection and activation of fibers.
Breathing Test: Grab a phone with a stop watch on it. Sit nice and tall and allow your lungs to have full room to inflate. Take a deep breath in and as soon as you have a full breath hit the start button on the stopwatch. Let out a slow hiss on and ssssss sound until your lungs have fully deflated and you can longer longer exhale. When you absolutely need to take a breath hit the "lap" button on your stopwatch. Repeat this process 5 consecutive times without any breaths in between.
The perfect test should show increases lengths of time you are able to hold your breath with your 5th and final time being the longest breath hold. If you found it difficult to transition into the following breath without taking a short break you have room to improve your breathing coordination and capacity! This is a beginning test to assess your breathing, and there are many more to improve control!
In summary, practicing proper deep diaphragmatic breathing will allow you to reduce dizziness, anxiety, improve circulation, have clearer thoughts, and many more health benefits.