Breathe Through It

Proper Breathing Techniques for Optimal Performance

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 inhaling 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.

The Morphe Method: Private Stretching

Stretching sessions dramatically increase your Range of Motion (ROM), flexibility, and muscle strength.  Athletes understand the importance of proper, regular stretching exercises for improved performance and endurance in sports, and it is known that Olympic Athletes use isolated stretching as an integral part of their training and in preparation for competition. In fact, proper stretching of the body’s muscles enhances all forms of physical activity. You will see reduced pain and inflammation, greater mobility, increased stamina, and improved quality of sleep.  Stretching is for every body!

The Morphe Method for Total Fitness: Happy Mind, Healthy Body & Strong Soul

The Morphe Method incorporates every aspect of wellness into a series of classes and treatment options that address physical, mental, and spiritual conditioning: building strength, balance, endurance, and inner peace.  Let’s select which Method components are right for you and get you on the road to total, holistic self-renewal!

Roberto Santamarina, CSCS, is a Master Trainer dedicated to health, fitness and life coaching. Morphe Studios is Roberto’s Gift to his beloved Miami – a boutique fitness studio devoted to unleashing your hidden potential for growth and life transformation through physical activity, spiritual awareness and positive habits that help you achieve all of your personal goals.

The Morphe Method, rooted in Roberto’s philosophy of unifying mind, body and soul, along with his caring approach of focused personal attention to each client, guarantees that your experience at Morphe will be specifically tailored to satisfy your individual needs. Roberto has assembled a team of masters in health, wellness, fitness and spa treatments to ensure your results will encompass every area of your life to guide you toward the total transformation that you dream of!

“The Key to achieving a true metamorphosis is to think positive, take action and develop a well-balanced you.”
—Roberto Santamarina

Play better, Enjoy more: Improve Your Game with Flex Training

As both an avid golf enthusiast and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist working with all sorts of athletes for over 15 years, I can attest to the contribution that flex training can add to your golf game.  In fact, I’d like to share a story with you of one golfer who lowered his handicap from 20 to 10 in less than a years’ time by working to improve his overall balance, strength, and flexibility.

In my work with professional athletes, both targeted at improving general fitness and/or working to rehabilitate injuries, I have learned the benefits that all-around flexibility, balance and strength training can bring to an athlete’s performance. So when Victor came into my studio with the specific goal of lowering his golf handicap, I was prepared to coach him to a whole new level as a golfer.

Initially, we incorporated Ultrasound Therapy and P.N.F. (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) Stretching, a series of specialized stretching techniques commonly used by clinical therapists, to rapidly improve his overall range of motion and bring fast relief from chronic tendonitis, a problem he’d suffered with for years.

We then began working on bio-mechanic strengthening and core conditioning through Gravity Training and Kinesiology, which relieved his chronic lower back pain, a problem he attributed to his long hours of sitting at a desk during his day job.  This system also improves balance and overall flexibility while building strength in the entire body, improving rotation and general mobility, maintaining proper weight, increasing muscle tone and definition, and lengthening the spine, improving overall posture.

To that, we added Swing Fan Drills, Medicine Ball and Plyometric Workouts, a series of specialized exercises targeted specifically to improving his rotation, swing and golf performance, lowering his handicap from 20 to 10 over a period of 11 months.  We also worked to develop a series of appropriate pre and post training exercises to not only improve Victor’s overall performance on the green, but also to decrease his risk of injury and maintain his flexibility, even through his long days at the office.

Today, this enthusiastic golfer has found a renewed interest in his favorite sport. His health is greatly improved, as is his game, and he is able to enjoy playing more often, free of pain. A testament to the holistic principle of overall physical conditioning, his is just one more example of what a focused and balanced training regimen can do to benefit any athlete, from beginner, to pro, to weekend warrior.