Have you ever questioned what your breathing should look like? If not, take a moment to notice as it can dramatically change your life.
Do you breathe so that your stomach extends out? Or does your chest expand? Are you a "neck breather" where you use a lot of your chest muscles, neck, and shoulder to breathe? I bet you didn't know there were different ways to exchange your air.
Breathing mechanics are impactful, and in fact, there is an OPTIMAL way to efficiently improve oxygen levels, improve circulation, and even improve your core strength. JUST BY BREATHING!
A quick glance at breathing facts:
Exhaling (breathing out) is a passive action. No ab contraction should be occurring.
"Belly Breathers" can put extra pressure on the already stretched out muscles postpartum (diastasis recti).
"Belly Breathers" frequently have tight ribs, mid to upper back pain can occur.
"Neck Breathers" have minimal diaphragm movement. They often have tight shoulders and neck muscles which can result in more frequent headaches.
What can you do to fix your breathing? You need to find out what kind of breather you are 1st.
Here is a simple step-by-step guide to complete quickly at home to self-assess what type of breather you are.
Sit comfortably with good posture (remember to not overthink!!)
Put one hand on the side of your rib cage and one on your stomach.
Take a normal breath, which hand moves?
Don't know what you are feeling? Take a deep breath.
If your rib cage moves, you are a diaphragm breather (YAY! That's what we want)
If your stomach moves, you are a stomach breather (Don't worry, we can fix that)
If nothing moves, try this exercise again with a different hand placement. Keep one hand on your rib cage and move the other to the side of your neck (where your neck connects to your shoulder).
If you feel your clavicle rise and neck muscles get tight, you are a "neck breather."
Now don't worry if you are not a diaphragm breather. You most likely have been breathing this way your whole life. But now you know what type of breather you are. But how can you improve it? As I said before, there is a better way to breathe, EVEN for diaphragm breathers. Seeing a health professional will enhance your breathing techniques and result in:
Improved oxygen levels
Controlled breathing during exercises (lifting, running, playing, etc.)
Strong core strengthening
Empowerment of knowledge of how your body works
Improve pelvic floor muscles (Women AND Men)