As obvious as it may sound but getting your breathing correct is really important.
I’ve noted before that I place a big emphasis on breathing during the rehab process. I do this because of how we can influence the autonomic nervous system, basically how we control whether we are in rest and digest mode or fight/flight mode.
I was reminded yesterday of how big an impact it can have.
Getting it under control
I was into the conditioning portion of my workout having done the strength work, squats, chins, and press ups if you’re interested. The conditioning part was 10 reps of 90 sec on 60 sec rest on the Concept 2 rower.
It’s a pretty tough session as the recovery is deliberately insufficient.
I’d had a grim day at work with a few bits and pieces not going to plan and wasn’t quite focusing as well as I needed to be. As a result the session was even tougher than normal.
I then realised I wasn’t focusing on my breathing during the recovery period.
With just 60 sec to get ready for the next bout you really need to do all you can to recover as well as you possibly can. This is where focusing on your breathing really helps.
How big a Difference?
For the first 5-6 reps I had just been breathing and not thinking about what I was doing. Normally I really force myself to breathe in and out through my nose as it does make a big difference.
For those first reps, I wasn’t bringing my heart rate back under 140 bpm before starting again. This was really starting to have an effect as from 45 sec I was really toiling to maintain my pace and stroke rate.
I then realised I wasn’t focusing on my breathing and started to breathe as I would do normally.
I went from not getting under 140 to getting down to 130-133 bpm from a heart rate of 160+ before starting again.
The better breathing pattern allowed me to drop 10 bpm even though I was accumulating more fatigue.
How was this possible?
It works because this type of breathing pushes you towards the parasympathetic state which promotes recovery. As a result, my recovery between reps 9 & 10 was better than between reps 1 & 2!
If we now look at recovery, in general, it can be really hard to relax when things are stiff, achy or just a bit sore. To help we can use exactly the same type of breathing as I used between the interval reps.
A simple technique that I use all the time is focused on breathing that can be done at work, on the bus or even when out for a walk.
1. Simply sit in a nice relaxed position. Completely slouch in your seat if you want to, don’t worry about the posture police.
2. Now, with your mouth closed, breathe slowly in and out through your nose with both the inhalation and exhalation should taking about 6 seconds.
3. Repeat this for 6 breaths when you’re at work or feeling a bit stressed and your thinking is getting muddied.
You can repeat this as often as you like through the day. It’s a great way to break up periods of work as well as using it when the aches and pains are getting a bit much.
Breathing when stretching
Whilst I don’t place a big emphasis on static stretching from a rehab/injury prevention point of view I believe it to be quite useful.
Where I think it helps is in more long term improvement in range of movement and in helping the body relax. It also fits nicely with the type of breathing I’ve just been talking about.
To often people are in a rush to see changes in the range of movement but they do take time to develop just like anything else. The relaxed type of breathing I’m talking about really helps the process along and turns the session into a great recovery session.
Try it out whether it’s during your workout, at work or just winding down fro the day, it will really help.
If this sounds like an approach you’d like to take to help deal with an injury or why not fill in the form for one of our Discovery Visits and see how we can help you..