My thoughts on breathing...
A bit more information as it occurs to me about how breathing impacts your health and well-being. If you have questions or want me to address a particular topic, please don't hesitate to contact me!
In May, I'll be hosting a number of classes throughout the city titled Breathe, Stretch and Move (borrowed from a title of a book by my mentors, Tania Clifton-Smith and Dinah Bradley, founders of the BradCliff Method). The class was born out of observations I was making clinically, which was that patients were having difficulty coordinating those three tasks. They could breathe, although it wasn't a fantastic pattern (it was all upper chest and quite rapid). They could move...but then they held their breath when they did. And stretch? Well, that was a problem too. Maybe it's too much time in front of a computer, or hunched over in a car, or maybe because here in Calgary, we spend too much time huddled up against the cold (although admittedly this year was pretty tame, right?).
Whatever the case, I noticed I was correcting breathing patterns but was having to spend a lot of time integrating those patterns into core stability strategies. And in order to breathe easier and better, there was lots of attention to getting the upper back and ribs moving better, as restrictions in those areas makes it harder for the diaphragm to work. And while treatment is very focused to each individual, there tended to be a pattern to what exercises I was giving. And so Breathe, Stretch and Move incorporates the basic principles of better breathing - low, slow, diaphragmatic (belly ) breathing, with various movement patterns. The stretching component will help with traditionally tight areas - like the chest muscles (the pecs), the low back area, the neck and upper back. We will use breathing to help mobilize some of those areas so that we get the ribs moving easier. The move component will incorporate progressive core stability strategies in a way that participants are still able to maintain efficient breathing strategies.
What tends to happen with traditional core strengthening programs at the gym, is that in an effort to be exciting, they leave out the basic steps of engaging the deep core muscles. The result is that people often "brace" or hold their breath and push down with their diaphragm and hold their tummy muscles tight. This can be disastrous for pelvic floor muscles (beware of this new moms!). This class will focus on the basics, using the diaphragm (breathing) to coordinate the muscles of the core - see this post that discusses the interaction of these muscles.
So I will leave you with this test to see if you can Breathe, Stretch and Move:
I'm a physiotherapist who is passionate about educating anyone and everyone about the impact breathing has on our health.