Most people are breathing into their upper bodies, and hence, overusing their neck muscles. This could be an area of stiffness and tightness for you if you are this type of breather. The most efficient and natural way of breathing is belly breathing, using your diaphragm.
If you’re struggling with:
- Back, hip or neck pain
- Unable to ‘feel’ your core during your workouts
- Deal with leakage during coughing, sneezing, laughing, running, jumping or lifting
You have an ‘in-efficient’ core engagement strategy. An efficient core engagement strategy starts with good breathing.
Here’s quick way to self assess your breathing:
- Lie on your back, place one hand on your chest and one on your belly.
- Do some quiet breathing for about 30-60 seconds and feel with your hands where you are breathing in.
- Is it your upper hand at your chest or your lower hand at your belly?
A Postpartum mom is any woman who has had a child, there is no time limit on postpartum mom status. Becoming a mother can effect the way you get back to your fitness goals too! When the belly expands your posture changes, along with many other different anatomical changes to your body these changes can effect how you use your core muscles during exercises. Although many of the changes will revert back to normal shortly after having a baby, sometimes you will have flared rip posture long after giving birth. This can seriously hinder your ability in the gym and would make it much harder to fire your muscles!
When working on exercises in the gym make sure:
- Ribs aren’t pointing up
- Parallel to the ground
- Parallel to the pelvic bowl
Just to review, diaphragmatic breathing engages all the necessary muscles to engage your core. To get better at utilizing the core system, you have to challenge it. Just like if you want to get better at running or lifting, you want to challenge that. The deadbug is a great starting point exercise to do this. Check out how to do the “dead bug” below:
- Start with a pillow under your head, arms reaching to the ceiling. This gets your ribs in an optimal position to work as a team with the pelvic floor and abdominals.
- Lift your legs to a table top position. Arms lifted and pointing to the ceiling and legs in a 90-90 position. Let’s practice the breathing here.
- Inhale, belly relaxes, then exhale by blowing through the mouth.
- Make sure the neck is staying relaxed, your low back is not arching and your buttocks are not clenching. Focus on the breath.
So let’s review we have learned a lot about our breathing and how to use breathing to help improve our fitness especially for postpartum women. Try this below:
- Keep your hands where they are.
- Inhale and as you breathe in, try to keep your upper body very still, and let your stomach relax. Relaxing your stomach will allow you to breathe into the belly. When you inhale, your diaphragm stretches down, your pelvic floor stretches down, and the stomach rises.
- Your inhale, if done properly, sets you up for an efficient exhale, which is when your core engages. On the exhale, purse your lips and blow out like you are blowing out a birthday candle. Focus on the blowing, and you will feel that as you exhale, your abdominals automatically recoil and engage. This is efficient core engagement.
- You can practice this breathing in different positions: on your back, on your side, on all fours, half kneeling, standing, sitting and even walking.
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