3 breathing techniques to boost your performance
Over 90% of our body’s energy comes from our breath, says the Lung Foundation Australia, yet, this simple daily action is taken for granted because it doesn’t require any thought.
It’s only when our breathing is compromised that we start to think about it, and this happens when we exercise.
When people are not aware of their breathing patterns during body weight moves, they become confused when to inhale and exhale, and lose control of their breathing. The inconsistent oxygen intake causes shortness of breath, which can induce dizziness, impaired performance, fatigue, as well as causing spikes in blood pressure. This is why it is crucial to pay attention to your breath during exercise.
The following breathing techniques can help you improve your breathing during a work out.
1. Coordinate breathing with movement
“The rule of thumb is to breathe out with exertion,” says Lungs in Action program manager, Corinne French. “As you push, pull or lift.” Some people hold their breathe to stabilise their core, but this can obstruct their overall breathing pattern.
“Coordinating breathing with abdominal stabilisation (where you contract the abdominal muscles when you breathe out) will provide more power through to your limbs,” says French.
Tennis players are masters of this technique, forcefully exhaling as they hit the ball to improve their ground-strokes and serves.
2. Take deep breaths
To improve your athletic performance, it is important to completely empty the lungs before taking another breath. We only partially use our lungs when our breathing quickens. “Less fresh air, combined with residual used air, results in less oxygen entering the lungs, which drives the body to pump more blood,” says French.
“If people have healthy lungs, the body automatically adjusts with the workload to keep a normal level of oxygen in the body. This is achieved by faster and deeper breathing in conjunction with the heart speeding up to help push blood around the body.”
The nation’s fastest female sprinter, Melissa Breen, uses steady, deep breathing to recover after a sprint. “Concentrating on slowing things down releases tension throughout my body, and then I focus on long deep breaths to bring me back to normal,” says Breen.
3. Utilise the lower rib cage and diaphragm
Since the diaphragm moves down as you breathe in and up as you breathe out, it is important to adjust your body’s position during exercise to help facilitate this movement. If you bend down and try to breathe in, the bent position will prevent the diaphragm from moving down and make breathing difficult.
“When performing a continuous action like running, swimming or cycling, breathing patterns should be utilising the ‘bucket handle’ rib cage movement of the diaphragm to ensure maximal breath in and then using pursed lip breathing when exhaling to help enhance emptying of the lungs,” says French.
During November, Lung Foundation Australia celebrated the importance of breathing for lung health awareness month.
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