It is a fact that the body cannot store oxygen. That is why we breathe: bringing oxygen in, and letting the carbon dioxide out. When you work out, you have to inhale more to keep from collapsing. Why? Because your muscles need oxygen to function, and when you are working out they need more than usual. Yes, it seems like common sense. But, where exactly are you putting the stress of your breathing? That’s the key difference. Tony Gentilcore, co-founder of Cressy Performance and premiere Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, found this to be a prominent approach to fitness for 2013. “It’s profound how much of an effect faulty breathing patterns — in this case people relying too much on their accessory breathing muscles like the upper traps, scalenes, levator, etc, and NOT on their diaphragm — has on everything from posture and many common dysfunctions we see in the general population (neck pain, shoulder pain, even lower back pain) to performance, in and outside of the gym,” said Gentilcore in a feature on Greatist.com. “All of this is controlled by the medulla part of your brain.”
Your body needs CO2 as well as oxygen. It’s a balancing act according to Fiona Agombar, a yoga teacher and author, who explained it to the Daily Mail. “You need a balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide. If you breathe too fast, you breathe off too much carbon dioxide, which, in turn, will make your whole system too alkaline,” said Agombar. “A certain level of CO2 is necessary for your cells to maintain the correct level of acidity and to function properly.”
The lymphatic system, in charge of flushing out toxins and waste from the immune system, also relies on our breathing to function properly. It doesn’t have a pumping system like the heart, so it relies on the flow of oxygen to bodily movement to detoxify.
Here are some tips on Proper Breathing for different forms of exercise:
- Relax your abs slightly and breathe so that your belly rises and falls, not your chest. This is called “deep belly breathing.” As Gentilcore emphasized – it’s your diaphragm!
- Just breath! Sometimes while strength training, it’s tempting to hold your breath, but remember to just breath normal to avoid feeling dizzy.
- Exhale on extensions, thrusts and pushes. This is especially true in abdominal work! Your stomach sits behind the abdominal wall. When you are rushing your breath, the stomach gets pushed further out which forces the abdominal wall to stretch outward as well. Contracting the stomach and releasing the air brings the muscles inward.
- That tip to breathe in through your nose and out your mouth is outdated and…well inefficient. Your nose is too small a passageway to deliver the amounts of oxygen you need to keep your muscles moving.
- Try breathing in “patterns” that correlate with your footstrikes. About.com suggests taking three footstrikes for every inhale, and two footstrikes for every exhale.
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