Did you know that breathing correctly is crucial to your health and performance? Proper breathing techniques have been prescribed to fix many conditions, along with getting most out of your workouts. There are probably many breathing mistakes you're making, and now is the time to fix them.
Negative Effects Of Improper Breathing
Breathing incorrectly actually has many negative effects on your health. Poor-quality breathing can lead your body to work all of your muscles harder than they have to, risking injury and fatigue. Additionally, any of these breathing mistakes can impair your ability to recover. This is because your nervous system remains activated while the accessory muscles continue to work.
Top Breathing Mistakes
To avoid any negative outcomes from happening, let's address the top breathing mistakes you're making AND how to fix them.
You're Not Breathing With Your Full Diaphragm
The #1 mistake people make is that they are only breathing with their chest or stomach, not their full diaphragm. Chest breathing makes you lose core stability, leading your body to recreate that stability elsewhere. This can overwork other muscles for no reason, leading to tightness. If you’re only breathing with your stomach, then you’re not taking full advantage of your lung capacity. This is something that declines over time no matter what, and it will decline at a faster rate if you don't use it.
The Fix: You must practice proper breathing forms that involve using your diaphragm, obliques, transverse abdominal, and ribs. If you breathe correctly, your abs should expand in the front, side, and back on the inhale and contract on the exhale. Basically, it shouldn’t just be your stomach expanding in the front. Try wrapping a band or yoga strap around your midsection and breathe into it to get the right feedback.
You're Not Breathing When You Lift
Many of you ignore your breath when you lift, which limits your performance tremendously. Additionally, you're lifting heavy loads without your diaphragmatic breath, which can leave the spine more susceptible to injuries like a disc bulge or herniation.
The Fix: Be sure to inhale before you initiate a lift, then hold your breath to create pressure and stability in your core. When you're halfway through the lift, part your lips, keep your teeth together, and slowly exhale so your breath makes a hissing sound. This will activate your entire core and make every lift safer and stronger.
You're Breathing Too Deeply or Gasping
Essentially, you shouldn't breathe deeply or gasp, through your mouth to recover from a high-intensity exercise. Breathing through your mouth actually delays recovery by triggering a stress response in the body.
The Fix: Between a high-intensity workout, take slow, deep breaths through your nose. This will shift your body into a rest-and-digest mode instead of stress-mode due to the warming effect that nose breathing has on air. Did you know that your lungs actually prefer warm air? Well now you do!
You're Catching Your Breath Wrong
Do you interlace your hands behind your head to catch your breath? WELL STOP! Recovering from a high-intensity workout in this way actually activates a fight-or-flight response in your body. It also opens your rib cage and compromises the diaphragm, which makes breathing more difficult in the end.
The Fix: If you need to catch your breath, bend down and place your hands on your knees. This allows your diaphragm to move air and leads to a faster recovery.
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