There are many muscles in your torso and neck involved in full-range breathing, probably more than you imagined. Therefore, there are a number of movements involved too. Great breathing involves having access to those movement skills and being able to apply them individually, if needed, and together in a coordinated fashion which is more important for running. There are three factors that contribute to these breathing skills:
Good mobility underlies good movement. Over time we all accumulate damage, self-inflicted or otherwise, that make it more difficult to move well. The types of things that could affect your mobility are sitting too much, injuries, accidents, surgery, changes in structure from playing various sports, etc. And the restrictions could be in bones, soft tissue or neurological. We provide a number of ways to improve your breathing mobility.
There are a number of movements involved in breathing. We will focus on the major ones involved in inhalation and exhalation.
- Inhalation (inspiration)
- Diaphragmatic movement
- Lower chest
- Mid chest
- Upper chest and neck
- Relaxing the muscles of inspiration
- Contracting abdominal and lower back muscles
In our experience, people either rarely think about posture, or consider it as an independent physical attribute that you may want to train. Good running posture will benefit you in a number of ways, and it’s necessary for good breathing. As an example, several muscles of the neck elevate your upper rib cage when they are contracted which contributes to a full inhale. If your head is projecting forward (often the case for desk workers), those muscles have lost their mechanical advantage and can’t really contribute to breathing. In essence they are slack because their attachment points are close together and there is nothing to pull against when contracting.
We look at respiratory training largely the way we look at training other muscle training. We focus on training movements, not muscles.
- First we need to become aware of the different ways by which we are able to breath and assess them.
- We then need to clear any injury or pain that would inhibit good movement, or worse, ingrain compensatory bad movement.
- We need to make sure that we are actually able to move in the ways nature intended, i.e., that we haven’t incurred any “sensory motor amnesia” from historical lack of use, or impaired movement from lack of practice, bad posture, sitting too much, etc.
- If you don’t move well, we’ll provide drills to correct that.
- Only then do we want to strengthen the muscles involved in the movements.
- Because many of the muscles involved in breathing are also critical to running, we’ll want to practice your skills and breath control while running.
Training in this area consists of self-assessments so you can know if you are moving well and drills to fix mobility, movement and posture.