Yes, it’s simple. Yes, it’s the foundation of basically every function of the human body. Yes, it’s harder than it looks. And, yes, it’s almost always overlooked because of its simplicity; we are already born “knowing” how to do it. Right?
You’d think. But life circumstances often conspire to affect our breathing patterns in myriad ways. Not the least of which is pregnancy and the hormone bomb-drop of the early (i.e. first 12 months) postpartum period.
The good news is we have a *lot* of control over how we breathe. And learning to recognize patterns and their triggers is very valuable information. Manipulating your breathing can prevent/stop/reroute just about any circumstance imaginable. Seriously.
Today, play around with directing your breathing to different areas. Think of, or physically place your hand on, a spot and send it there. It starts out that simple. Can’t do it? Keep creating the intention and keep practicing. You just need to wake up a forgotten skill. Most likely. Barring extenuating circumstances, of course.
Here, I’m playing around with one-sided lateral rib expansion. Fun little party trick! 🤓
I know, I know, there is some lingering upper ab gripping. I am, *we* are, a constant work in progress, should you choose to seek the path of self-improvement. It’s a fun one!
Walking. Seems so innocuous, no? Notice how you walk throughout your day. Feet, arm swing, spine, hips/pelvis, breathing. The whole nine yards.
Here I first demonstrate the gait I see frequently, in women AND men. Lumbar (lower) spine rotates, thoracic (mid-upper back) spine stays still, arms going bananas in an attempt to create forward propulsion.
What we would like to see is some lovely cross body rotation (second demo), with shoulder rotating towards opposite hip as you step forward. A nice, relaxed, fluid motion. Of course, this can take some work to achieve, not the least of which is midback mobility (see my post on this from last August/September). But, in the meantime just notice what you feel and see. This is just a fun little test to see where you are at right now.
One of the things I see most often in women experiencing prolapse and diastasis recti is this lack of cross body rotation and general stiffness. And walking is the quickest way to spy this deficit. Complaints of low back pain are also often accompanied by the stiff upper body and overly-mobile lumbar spine.
The last part is a fun drill to do throughout the day to encourage more rotation. Exaggerate the rotation, and wiggle! Shake those sillies out!
Squeeze in your workout Wednesday ! I lovelovelove to stack my habits and my exercise throughout the day. It’s laundry day (wait, with two toddlers isn’t every day laundry day?!) so how about squeezing in some extra squats and hip hinge work?
Since we are all upping the hand-washing big time these days due to #coronavirus how about a little #alignment #tutorial since you’re spending way more time (at least 20 seconds of lather 12,147 times per day) scrubbing the nasties off your hands 😝
A few tips to consider: avoid leaning on the counter and thrusting hips forward, stand tall from the crown of your head, keep knees unlocked and soft, try aligning sternum over pubic bone, avoid hunching upper back to reach the water and instead reach through with serratus muscle (bringing shoulder blades forward), shake your #groovethang and maybe even practice getting some good 360 breaths in here, too.
Is your chest doing all the work? Belly? Can you see the muscles in front of your neck popping out with each breath? Are your sides moving with each breath? Do you feel your back expand at all?
How about the quality of your breathing? Is it fast, slow, or relaxed? Loud? Quiet? Audible to the person next to you? Are you breathing through your nose or your mouth? Mouth open or closed?
Fun challenge: how quiet can you make it and still breathe comfortably? Hint: you’ll have to slow it down quite a bit!
Just notice. Be curious. Note how you’re feeling right now and how that correlates to your breathing pattern. Trying manipulating it and slowing it down with a few very slow and deep breaths (in/out through the nose). Then speed it up and breathe in/out through your mouth and see how you feel. Your heart rate will likely change. Which feels better?
Breathing is the simplest and yet most essential task of daily life. Automatic yet we can manipulate it, re-train it for better or worse. It effects every single essential task of the body. There are optimal and sub-optimal ways of breathing. Everyone is different and everyone has their best way of breathing.
The pelvic floor (PF) responds to every single breath you take. Cool, huh? So if you’re stressed, your PF is going to be stressed. If you’re relaxed, your PF should be able to relax. Unfortunately, we are often way too stressed and it creates some pretty gnarly patterns down the line. So stop every now and then and take three nice and slow diaphragm lubricating breaths, let chest rise slightly, belly/back/sides expand like a balloon would, shoulders and neck relaxed. Close your eyes if you can/need to. In through the nose, out through the mouth. Exhale longer than your inhale. See if you can feel your PF descend down gently with your inhale, and if you have high kinesthetic awareness, try to feel your PF recoiling back up on the exhale. That is what happens but so many of us have lost that connection to our bodies. The more you practice noticing the better you’ll get at it.
Bridges! Probably the second most prescribed exercise in physical therapy clinics across the U.S. Second only to clams. So much going wrong with them basically every time I see someone do them. And they are a great exercise for hip extension and building those #glutesofglory so today’s post is a quick tip on using better form.
Feet closer to bum = more glutes, further from bum = more hamstrings. Make sure to get a great 360 inhale first then exhale and use your lower abs to tilt pelvis posterior, pushing low back into the floor. Hold a nice brace at the end of your exhale and inhale again, still maintaining a gentle abdominal brace. On the exhale, tighten your brace slightly and push the ground away from you, contracting those glutes.
Remember 1.0: pubis in same plane as lower ribs, and ribs knit down with a nice abdominal brace. Breathing 360 under a brace is a skill and you may need to practice this. A lot. No breath-holding here, please!
Remember 2.0: don’t make your back work to create the movement. Keeping good core control will help keep the paraspinals soft so you can focus on using those glutes appropriately.
Remember 2.1: breathe throughout the entire exercise. NO BREATH-HOLDING!
Try it out and see what you think!
Runner, lifter of children, PTA, CPT, PCES, pelvic health zealot