The ability to breathe with your diaphragm while stabilizing the core is a simple yet valuable skill that many people struggle to obtain. When it comes to moving a load such as in weightlifting it is natural to tense up and brace when you exert yourself. It makes sense that your core must be tight in order for forces to pass through it effectively. However you should never hold your breath or use your diaphragm to engage your core. Your diaphragm is the primary muscle responsible for respiration. Diaphragmatic breathing is critical for core stability, control, and ultimately strength. Dysfunctional breathing patterns can cause all sorts of aches and pains as a result of improper core stabilization, and will limit your ability to perform at your best. So are you a dysfunctional breather?
Here is a list of some common signs
- Inhalation being initiated with lifting the chest and rig cage
- Limited lateral expansion of the rib cage on one or both sides
- Forward head posture
- Resting Breathing rate above 12-14 breaths
- Elevated shoulder girdle
- Frequent sighing
- Constant mouth breathing
- Tight anterior cervical muscles (sternocleidomastoid and scalenes)
So how do you learn to breathe with your diaphragm? Practice!
- First you can try focusing on how you breathe during an exercise. Try to inhale during the eccentric (weight lowering phase) and exhale with tight lips during the concentric (weight lifting phase).
- Try the 90-90 hip lift. This is a great exercise to practice breathing and should be done daily if not twice daily. https://youtu.be/m2OFz37JHug
- Transverse abdominis contractions. http://therapeuticexchange.com/body-region/low-back/thoracolumbar-strengthening/diaphragmatic-breathing-transversus-abdominus-contractions/
Henoch, 18DPT, Quin. "90-90 Breathing with Hip Lift." YouTube. YouTube, 18 Jan. 2015. Web. 03 Nov. 2015.
Hudson, PT, Jeremy. "Diaphragmatic Breathing: Transversus Abdominus Contractions." Therapeutic Exchange. Therapeutic Exchange, n.d. Web. 3 Nov. 2015.
Longazel, Brad. "Learn to Breathe: Your Next PR Depends on It." Elite FTS Learn to Breathe Your Next PR Depends on It Comments. Elite FTS, 6 June 2014. Web. 03 Nov. 2015.
Mcmannus, D. M. Effect of Core Strength on the Measure of Power in the Extremities. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 373-380.
Nelson, N. Diaphragmatic Breathing: the foundation of core stability.Strength and Conditioning Journal , 34.