As one of the first blogs I thought I would start at the beginning. What I think a lot of pain/dysfunction/energy inefficiency/poor performance can boil down too... improper breathing strategies. Sounds ridiculous to have a strategy for something as unconscious and simple as breathing right? I agree, and with caution not to jump too far into one camp I will explain why I do not think it is a fad, but rather important. Lets begin with the diaphragm. You know what I'm talking about when I say the diaphragm, your muscle that you should be using to breath. When it contracts it increases space in your chest and allows air to fill your lungs. When I say you should be using your diaphragm to breath that is because there is another strategy your body can use to meet this goal called accessory breathing. In this instance you use your accessory muscles, basically the muscles in your upper chest, back, and neck to pull your chest up, still allowing air to flow into your lungs but putting undue stress on these muscles. Your body is great at compensating. This might be a recurring theme in this blog. You obviously need to breath and if you aren't doing it properly with your diaphragm you will do it with other muscles and that works fine... until it doesn't. You will develop trigger points, tight muscles or spasm which can lead to a whole host of other problems that we want to avoid. Unresolved or unexplained carpal tunnel syndrome, tingling in the arms or hands, pain in neck or shoulder? Maybe it is worth taking a moment to evaluate how you breath.
So what to do?
Start by laying face up on the floor, knees bent and feet resting on a couch or a coffee table. Place one hand on your belly and another on your chest. Take a few breaths and watch as your belly raises and lowers. Your chest should only raise a small amount toward the end of your breath cycle. Be mindful of your diaphragm and think about filling your lungs. Practice this technique multiple times throughout your day until it becomes natural.
On the next blog I will talk about your other diaphragm, your pelvic diaphragm. This one you may not have heard about and it plays an equally important roll in all of the parameters listed above. We will define your "core" and explain the core stiffness concept. See you there!