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15th August 2014

Breathing; a choice not a dogma

During a presentation to promote the Performance Matrix publications ‘Injury Prevention & Movement Control’ text a question worthy of further comment was raised; ‘how should I breathe?’ Those from a non-exercise background may well wonder how an action so fundamental could provoke such a thought. In attendance were devotees of Pilates, Yoga and group fitness exercise and each had been strictly guided on exactly how they must breathe during exercise; all of which differed. The answer supplied to the question was ‘it depends’.

If the end goal of movement control is to build a resilient movement health breathing supplies a tool of influence. It offers the movement professional an option that may be selected if required; a choice rather than a rule.

Exhalation & Recruitment

A forceful exhalation is a means by which to increase the involvement of the musculature of the trunk. This strategy assists those in which the uncontrolled movements of extension, rotation and side-bend of the low back is apparent. If this strategy allows a desired recruitment to be achieved its opposite (inhalation) may be thought of as creating a greater challenge for abdominal recruitment and could therefore be considered as a means of progression.

Inhalation & the ‘Robust Trunk’

A torso filled with air, post inhalation, is stiffer, a more robust structure requiring a greater amount of force before it gives in to a loss of control. Frequently, in many high load training activities trunk stiffness is enhanced through a combination of inhalation and recruitment; an inhalation combined with a voluntary contraction of the trunk musculature.

Monitoring Breath, Monitoring Movement

During low intensity, low threshold of recruitment training many practitioners cue participants’ breathing so as to monitor their performance. Ensuring a rhythmic inhalation-exhalation is maintained eliminates the breath holding strategy associated with and sometimes advantageous during heavy loading. Breath holding and bracing at low intensity or during speed and load movement control testing indicates a cheat strategy is been employed and therefore a training intervention is required.

An Inspired Choice

Adhering to one breathing approach in all loading and movement scenarios would be similar to only ever adjusting load to manipulate intensity or only statically stretching to influence range. Versatile tools only ever employed in one way have every right to feel undervalued. Breathing can alter stiffness, recruitment and supplies a method of monitoring exercise intensity. Disciplines may possess rules yet strictly adhering to these in all training scenarios reduces the tools of influence available to movement professionals.

Lincoln Blandford

Matrix Movement Expert


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