Today we’re going to be talking about respiration, and whether you should be prioritizing it in your training.
If you’re familiar with Z-Health, you know that we talk about brains all the time. One of our big points of focus are the two things that we say the brain needs to stay healthy and active throughout the lifespan.
The first thing is fuel, and the second thing is activation.
Now whenever we talk about fuel, most people go, “All right, so you’re talking about nutrition.” Well yeah, we’re talking about nutrition, but the other major fuel source for brain activity is respiration or breathing. Throughout the history of the physical culture movement and also the rehabilitation field, we have been familiar with the idea that lots and lots of people actually have less than optimal breathing patterns.
In the Z-Health approach, we break it down into three different things.
Number one, we look at your breathing habits. Are you a nose breather or a mouth breather? In general, you should only be using the mouth if you’re doing really, really hard intense exercise. That’s something very habitual that can be tested, and looked at and retrained.
The second thing we look at are your biomechanics. Respiration is a really muscular activity, you use the diaphragm, lots of inspiratory and expiratory muscles, and making sure that you have the mobility and strength in those muscles is absolutely key to being efficient with respiration.
The third thing that we then look at is what we call respiratory biochemistry, and a lot of that actually comes down to if you’re an endurance athlete, or an athlete that plays field sports, how well do you deal with the air hunger that builds up when you’re working really hard? We have assessments and drills for each one of those.
My goal for this particular blog was to get you thinking about your breathing.
The main things that you want to do this week are go, “Okay, I’m going to pay attention, two or three minutes each day, and see how fast I breathe.” You can always do a quick little test. One of the best things that we actually have people do, it’s called a functional inhale/exhale test.
We say, “Breathe normally for a couple of minutes, set a timer, and then take as slow an inhale as you possibly can. Rest for about thirty seconds, and then do the same thing on the exhale.” If you find that you can inhale or exhale for less than five seconds when you’re trying to extend it as long as possible, that’s a clear indication to us that we need to be prioritizing respiration for you.
The second thing that I would recommend, I’m going to put a link at the bottom of this video, and it’s to something called the Nijmegen Questionnaire. This is a really well researched questionnaire, that if you score over the threshold is a fairly clear indication that prioritizing respiration in your practice is absolutely going to be hugely beneficial for you.
Like I said, this week I just want you thinking about your breathing a little bit. Think about, “Do I feel sticky? Is it hard for me to take deep breaths? Do I have a lot of cramping if I take a really deep breath?” Pay attention to your habits. If you find yourself breathing through your mouth a lot, even when you’re not really being super active, then take the questionnaire.
If you have questions about this stuff, please send comments. If you find that you score highly on the questionnaire, or your habits are a little bit off, go back into our blog, type in breathing, we have done multiple blogs on biomechanical exercises and mobility drills that will start to improve this for you right away.
I’ll be giving you some additional information in future blogs.
Thanks for listening to this. I hope you have a great week. Let me know if you have any questions.