We can live for months without food, days without water but only a few minutes without air.
Do you breathe properly? Is that even a thing? What even is breathing properly? You might think “of course I do, I’m still alive, so I must be” but there is a lot more to it. Do you breathe through your mouth or nose? Do your chest and shoulders move, or your belly? Do you breathe deeply or shallow? Can you hear yourself breathe?…
Poor breathing patterns encourage the body to move to what’s called a “sympathetic state” or what you might know as the “fight or flight” state. This is a state of survival. Blood pressure is elevated, heart rate is elevated, there is increased muscle tension. There is a resultant increase in inflammatory markers, poor digestion, low energy levels, poor concentration, increased fatigue, irritability and anxiety. If you are someone who has some pain, being in this state also increases pain output messages from the brain.
Good, efficient breathing ensures that the body is in a state of healing called the “parasympathetic state”. It is a tissue building state where we “adapt and recover” or “rest and digest”. All of the less desirable sympathetic traits are reversed here. More blood flow to the right places, better concentration, more energy, less inflammation… everything that the body needs to perform better, especially for people that have been driven into “fight or flight” by pain.
Specific breath training can also help with sports performance. Breathing can be used to help increase oxygenation of the blood and optimise breathing volumes which can help with endurance performance. It can also be used to help relax the body to improve fine motor skills in sports like golf, for example.
One of the easiest ways to create this shift is with the breath. Learning some breathing techniques and then implementing them into life can make life changing improvements.
Breathing… you’re going to do it anyway, so why not do it properly!