When you’re sitting at your desk working, breathing is probably one of the last things that you’re thinking of. Often we’re so occupied with other thoughts, that we don’t want to take time thinking about things that we think we don’t absolutely need to work on. Besides, it looks like we’ve made it pretty far breathing the way we’re breathing now, right? I mean, you’re alive – I’m alive…. Although, that’s no reason to neglect proper breathing. According to most studies we’re doing it wrong. We often don’t think that breathing is the most direct way to nurture our body, and that with each breath we are sending oxygen to different parts of our body – and of course, our brain to be able to function. Isn’t our body amazing?? So, why don’t we always treat it like that? Yes – neglecting proper breathing techniques can actually be harmful to your health and especially your workouts. It can create your body to work overtime and can restrict your ability to relax, thus stopping neurological signals being sent from your brain to preform specific tasks, such as healing a part of your body with oxygen or relaxing your muscles when practicing an intensified stretch or heavy lifting. So the question is now – how do you know when you’re breathing wrong? Well, we cover that and how to optimize your breathing in your workouts to preform at your fullest potential – so keep on reading.
How Am I Breathing Wrong?
Studies find that there are actually many ways that you could be breathing completely wrong. It seems a little thinking that you could be doing something completely normal, and something we do naturally – completely wrong, but there’s a reason behind that. We are beings of habit, meaning that when something we feel comfortable doing, we actually preform this habit more and more until it becomes accustom to our routine – or until our body doesn’t know any better. Our body will always make sure it’s doing the best of it’s ability to take care of ourselves, but it does not always imply that our emotions don’t overtake the best practises for our body. What I mean by this is that if we adapt an abnormal breathing pattern, such as shallow breathing – than our bodies will automatically get accustom to this, since our brain is sending neurological signals to our body to breath about 20,000 times a day. If we are sending signals to breath shallowly, our body will not know the difference and preform this action. Here are the ways that your mind might be telling your body to breath “wrong”
- Shallow breathing
When we are unable to take deep breaths, due to our posture, we cannot breathe properly. Deep breathing consists of breathing through our diaphragm, which means you need to be able to maximum the amount of air going in and out at a slow pace through your diaphragm to your lungs and out through your mouth. Things such as bad posture, stress in our neck, shoulders or upper back cause us to tense up around our chests, and therefore hunch over. When we’re hunched over we are not optimizing the amount of air that enter our diaphragm, therefore probably preforming shallow breathing.
- Short Breathing
Short breathing, similar to shallow breathing limits the ability of air transferring to our lungs. This typically causes shortness of breath and if you have problems with your lungs or heart it is more likely to occur. Although, if you have no health problems and this is still occurring for you, it is because you are simply not breathing from your diaphragm.
- Mouth Breathing
This type of breathing occurs when breathing in is orchestrated through the month rather than the noise. It is definitely important to have the ability to breath through both your nose and mouth, but typically you will be able to inhale more deeply when breath is inhaled through the noise, and exhaled through the mouth. By doing this, it is likely that you’ll be able to get deeper breaths that reach down to your diaphragm, rather than stay in your lungs.
How To Optimize Your Workouts With Breathing
Now that we’ve stated the wrong types of breathing, it is important to adapt a way that is likely to fit in your regular routine, in addition to avoiding shallow or short breathing. The first concept to overcome when changing your breathing is your awareness. It’s quite easy to focus on your breathing for 5 minutes, 10 minutes or even a 30 minute window. But, as your day goes on, tasks pile up on your to-do list, it’s very likely breathing is not going to be at the top. So, to overcome this, giving attention and daily awareness to your breath will improve your overall breathing. What dose this mean for your workout? Less huffing and puffing as your lifting weights or doing HITT. This is because we as humans, ironically enough, have a tendency to stop breathing when put under pressure or tension. So, when you’re lifting your weights or trying to finish the set, it’s possible that your body automatically tenses, thus diminishing your breathing.
If you have awareness of your breath during your workouts, then you’re likely to breath properly, and circulate airflow when stretching or building muscle – i.e. something that is extremely critical for muscle growth or healing via stretching. Once you are aware of your breath, it becomes easier for you to account for it in your workout routine. For example, if you notice yourself short breathing, then you can take a deep breath, adjust and continue with your routine. If you notice that you are breathing properly, you can even draw more attention to your breath as a focus when your workout really starts to tire you out.
Although it seems quite simple “pay attention to your breath,” doing this, in junction with the 4-7-8 breathing technique can actually elevate your workout to new extremes! Firstly – what is the 4-7-8 breathing technique? Basically, you inhale through your nose for 4 seconds, hold it for 7 seconds and exhale for 8 seconds and repeat directly after. This technique is known to improve your stress levels because it balances your neuro-transmitter essential for brain function and the central nervous system. Why does this make a difference in your workout routine? When you go into a workout with a neutral level of stress and no tensions in your muscles and joints, you’ll be able to preform much better considering your body will physically move easier, and with a less likely probability for injury. In addition to performance, you’ll be able to overcome the mental aspect of going into yet another workout session on a cold winter day. Just practise this technique for 5 minutes and you’ll be right there, ready to go – mentally and physically.
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