Proper Breathing Techniques for Optimal Performance: "Every rep deserves a breath!" Breathing is the most essential function of our bodies. It’s something we do without ever being conscious of it in; fact we literally do it even in our sleep. But what happens if and when we do apply conscious awareness to the act of breathing? Proper breathing techniques can be a source of power and strength during any physical activity. Breathing properly ensures that all your organs, cells, and tissues as constantly being re-energized by the delivery of fresh pure oxygen to the entire body. Proper flexing, stretching, holding and resisting must be aided by proper breathing techniques in order to experience the full benefits of physical exercise and exertion. Here are some tips for optimizing your breathing technique during workouts for maximum performance and health benefits. I recommend inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth for maximum circulation of breath and purest oxygen delivery to the lungs. The nose filters toxins from the air and regulates the temperature of the air we inhale, while also naturally slowing down the act of inhaling, all of which ensure more efficient delivery of purified oxygen to the lungs. According to Roy Sugarman, Ph.D., director of applied neuroscience for Athletes’ Performance and the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team, nose breathing also calms the mind and body by increasing the saturation of CO2 in the bloodstream, thus also increasing endurance. Generally speaking, the inhale should happen during the least strenuous part of any exercise: So for example, if doing squats, inhale as you come up, and exhale on the exertion as you bend into the squat. Similarly, when doing crunches, inhale as you release, and exhale on the exertion as you bend into the crunch, and so on with other resistance exercises. Inhale slowly by drawing in your breath from the solar plexus. Using the nostrils to draw in the breath, let the muscles of the diaphragm expand to allow for maximum expansion of the lungs, drawing the air in gradually and naturally. You will visibly note the expansion of the lungs dAnna Hartman, director of Performance Physical Therapy at Athletes’ Performance recommends “The rib cage should expand in a 3D pattern, top to bottom, back to front, and to the sides” during the act of inhalation. During aerobic activity such as jump rope, running and jumping jacks, the trick is to maintain a steady and smooth flow of breath in and out of the body to keep the body oxygenated and assist with endurance. For some, a series of short shallow breaths done to a count of 2:2 works best to cool down the body and maintain endurance. This is done by inhalling two short breaths through the nose and then exhaling two short breaths through the mouth or nose. During stretching exercises, the length of inhalation should equal the length of the exhalation, or the exhalation should be slightly longer than the inhalation. This technique calms the nervous system, lowers blood pressure, and reduces anxiety and stress, allowing muscles to stretch beyond their comfort zone. In short: breathing is the key to staying alive. If we train our minds and bodies to do it properly, we really can use this basic automatic function to improve our quality of life.
We’ve heard it over and over again about how exercise produces endorphins, those “feel-good” chemicals our body unleashes when we’re working out and releasing stored toxins in our muscles. We know that exercise improves our mood and in some cases even counteracts clinical depression, as well as improving a number of related health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and arthritis. But how exactly does exercise help us to feel happier and more alive? Aside from producing endorphins, neurotransmitters, and endocannabinoids – chemicals known to decrease anxiety, depression, sadness and negative thought patterns – exercise also boosts the immune system, producing a general physical well-being, and raises body temperature which has been known to calm stress. Other benefits of regular exercise include:
As we get older, many of us complain of weakness in the knees and chronic knee pain. Many of us see this weakness as part of the normal run-of-the-mill process of aging, and basically an inevitable malady of getting older. But boy is that ever Wrong! Strength and flexibility in the knees and legs are essential to maintaining our balance, coordination and health as we age, and yes, there ARE things you can do to strengthen your knees and legs so that they can carry you solidly and firmly throughout your entire lifetime. One thing we must remember is that the knees are only one set of joints in a system of joints that support our entire bodies. So, for example, an injury to the hips or ankles will affect the strength and condition of the knees, because the system of joints in the body is all connected. Posture is critical to the health and strength of our knees, hips and ankles, and so is muscle tone around the ligaments that keep our joints functioning optimally. In order to keep our legs and knees healthy and strong, our entire bodies must be strong and tone, and our posture must be optimal. At Morphe, our regular Gravity Training routine includes plenty of movements and exercises that strengthen the knees, hips and ankles as well as improving overall balance and posture. Here is a list of some of the basic exercises that help to maintain optimal flexibility and strength in the knees and legs: