101 about Breathing
October 1, 2014
Since we are called Breathe, and breathing is the most fundamental principle of Pilates, we’ve decided to delve slightly deeper into the mechanics of breathing. You would think that something so essential to life would come naturally, but like everything else, most of us have deviated a long way from it.
The diaphragm is a parachute-shaped muscle that allows your lungs to move up and down in unison with breathing. Your diaphragm will often control whether or not the rest of your upper body muscles are connecting properly to your abs, and then down towards your hips . If you tend to arch your lower back a lot, think of your obliques and diaphragm as the muscles that control and counteract the arch of the low back and help pull you away from this extension.
Breathing without use of the diaphragm results in an overutilisation of the accessory muscles namely the scalenes, upper traps, and sternocleidomastoid, among others, while under-utilizing the abdominal musculature along with the diaphragm of course.
This can result in neck tension, with resulting aches and stiffness. Needless to say, improper breathing results in dissociation of your upper from your lower body and that will put you at risk of injuries and pain. Plus if you did endurance sport, breathing merely into that shallow top part of your lungs isn’t very efficient is it?
A quick tip to get back on the right track is to make sure that you are breathing equally into your chest and abdomen. As your diaphragm descends during inspiration, it will push down into your abdominal cavity, causing your abdominal to rise slightly. Try it and see if you feel a difference.
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