Check your breathing, its more important than you think. That big breathe you take before your squat, deadlift or bench can be doing more harm than good if not done correctly. Breathing mechanics will influence your rib position which can have flow on effects to your thoracic spine, shoulder, lower back and hips. Position is vital when we are talking staying healthy and getting the most out of your body.
Breathing can be assessed lying, sitting or standing: what you should see with a good breathe is expansion at both the lower and upper abdomen, with expansion occuring at 360 degrees around the torso. Common issues we see are people breathing with mainly chest expansion, poor sideways expansion and/or poor timing (chest expansion first then some lower abdomen expansion).
See the below video for a good example of improper chest breathing. Phil was one of the winners of a FREE movement assessment competition given to our newsletter subscribers. After discussion with Phillip, it was clear the most likely reason for his faulty breathing mechanics was his office job. Prolonged sitting and staring at a computer screen/mobile leads to slouching which causes the diaphragm and pelvic to lose their optimal position of directly facing each other. This causes your brain to resort to using upper body muscles to assist with breathing, which promotes this faulty breathing mechanics at rest. Some upper body muscles can assist with breathing in high stress situations when large amounts of oxygen are required, but they are not needed at rest.
In the video you can see quite a difference in Phillip’s before and after videos. We Still need to work on lateral expansion during his breathes. The two drills we used were crocodile breathing: laying face down with head on your hands and just breathing for 3-5 minutes. What you should feel is you lower back lifting as you breathe. This drill can provide awareness and can help to reset breathing mechanics.
The other drill we used was the 90/90 breathing drill which you can see in the below video from Darkside Strength.
Head Coach at The Strength Shed