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So I Hold My Breath When I Exercise, What is the Big Deal?

Many of us hold our breath everyday…when we get out of bed, when we stand up, when we exercise and when we lift. How many of you just realized you were also holding your breath as you were reading this?

Did any of you know our diaphragm (one of our primary breathing muscles) is also one of our core muscles? Many people mistakenly think that only their abdominals are their core, but we actually have a core cylinder.

Think of our core cylinder like a soda can, our diaphragm is on top, pelvic floor on the bottom and then our deep abdominals and deep back muscles making up the sides. So if that top part of our soda can is restricted and our “pop top” is not opening, then the only other way out is in our pelvic floor. If this happens, you may be experiencing a condition called urinary or fecal incontinence. This usually happens because as we cough/sneeze, or lift something heavy, our inter-abdominal pressure rises. If our diaphragm is not being used, then our pelvic floor will be pushed out resulting in leakage of urine or feces. Sometimes, over long periods of time, we can start to over tighten in the pelvic floor to prevent incontinence and this can just make the condition worse.

Pelvic floor won’t be the only one that suffers from that lack of breath. Our superficial back muscles (not the deep, core ones) will start to engage and over time you are the lucky recipient of chronic lower back or abdominal pain. Once this sets in, you are going to tighten that ribcage even more and that pain can start to spread up into the upper part of your back.

So hopefully by now I have your attention! There are numerous apps and breath exercises you can do to retrain this, but everyone is different. Some of you may want to check your breathing out right away. So most people go right to lying on their backs with their knees bent, but then find it is too difficult, or their back starts to hurt. Why don’t you try on your forearms and knees and just take the inhalation that you can take without arching or rounding your back. Focus on breathing in and out for 3-5 mins. As you improve, you can start to make this time longer and work on different positions for your breathing.

Our neuromuscular system will not be retrained without daily practice. Perform this everyday and you will see huge changes in body and your mind. If you want additional and more individualized plans you can call to set up your evaluation at our clinic.

You have to start somewhere, even if it’s in the middle of where you already are.– Elizabeth Hall

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