Just Breathing Can Strengthen Your Core
Breathing properly can have a lot of benefits – from reducing stress, relieving pain, lowering blood pressure to strengthening the core and helping with overall posture, balance and movement. One of the most underrated exercises is training the breath. Often stress is to blame for this as we find ourselves stuck in a momentary state of inhalation when stress occurs. While the average person takes 40,000 breathes each day, stress is bound to catch up to us and affect the muscle coordination of breathing. Physical therapists find that when cueing patients to perform an inhalation, the majority of people demonstrate an elevation of the chest that lifts the rib cage upward toward the ears. This technique represents an overuse of the neck musculature rather than proper use of the diaphragm.
A simple fix to this is to start by drawing the belly button inward toward the spine, and while holding this posture, perform an inhalation into the belly. For those who need a little extra help, try placing your hand over your belly to ensure the breath is increasing pressure in the abdomen rather than causing an elevation of the chest.
What about the exhalation you ask? Let’s split the exhalation into two types. The first being a passive, or relaxed exhalation, where you simply just let the breath fall out of your mouth. This is considered everyday exhalation and helps to decrease stiffness of areas that may be overworking, such as the neck and shoulders. The next type of exhalation is active and can be used to boost the amount of strength you have available by squeezing the abdomen and all of its air out while performing the lifting portion of an exercise.
Individuals initially are surprised how little control they have over their breath, but with some practice find that they have a lot more core strength, stability, and balance than they realized. Believe it or not, breath training can quickly and easily improve these things and help you to be stronger, move better and feel healthier.