Northern Beaches Mums Group
Northern Beaches Mums Group

How to breathe: why breathing is as important as your strength and cardio training

Breathing is so important! Aside from the obvious, breath also has the power to influence things like mood and health! Breathing can seem like such a small thing, because we rarely think about it, but think about it now… what happens if you don’t breath?? Less than optimal breathing patterns can contribute to a wide range of dysfunctions. Shallow breathing, for example, can overload your neck and upper back muscles and contribute to neck pain and headaches. It can also mean you NEVER get an optimal breath, which means you’re always existing in a less-than-fully-oxygenated state.

In the gym, we assess for 3 main breathing patterns:

  1. Shallow, chesty breath
  2. Belly breathing
  3. Intercostal breath

The intercostal breath is ideal, because the ribs move and accommodate the increased volume caused by breathing in. This has a knock-on effect of reducing loads on the pelvic floor and increasing the mobility of the thoracic spine! If someone shallow-breathes, they’re often experiencing chronic stress, and neck and shoulder pain. They’ll be “block-like” throughout their torso and this means that when their lungs fill with air, the internal organs are pushed down, not out. This is consequential for those of us who have had children, or experience pelvic floor dysfunctions, because we need LESS downward pressure on those tissues to heal, not more!!

Belly breathing isn’t ideal because… where are your lungs located???? NOT in your guts! If your belly is distending every breath, you’re lengthening the tissue between your abdominals’ every breath. If you have a pre-existing diastasis (separation), this will exacerbate it, or in the very least slow it’s healing post birth.

So we have mentioned the physiological benefits of breathing above, but what about the mental, hormonal, and other health benefits from being able to breath? Deep breaths can quell your stress response – boosting your immune system, increasing feelings of well being, and staving off depression! In the very least, this will help you feel better, more motivated, and more energetic! Reducing stress also reduces associated hormones, which can help you lose weight. Good breathing foundations will help you lift weights and/or children safely, as well… pretty important, huh?

If you have any of the symptoms above, make sure you book in with a women’s heath physio to get EVERYTHING pelvic checked, including your breathing! You can look up your local one here. You can book in for a FREE assessment with us here!

If you’re a personal trainer, you can do a whole course on Breathing Better here. You can read more on why the breath must come first with your training here (and send that link to your trainer if you’re a mum!).

Clare Hozack is an ex-athlete and owner and founder of IntoYou. Clare is currently a strength and conditioning coach, using her skills to return women to functionality after having kids, and providing education for personal trainers in how to train women better.