Breathing – A Great Core Workout!
We all do it. In fact, at rest it is estimated we take between 17,000 – 30,000 breaths per day. Now what if I was to tell you that with every breath you could have a deep core workout. Now I’ve sparked your interest into breathing. It’s true, every time you breath you could be strengthening the centre of your body.
Think back to the last time you saw a baby breathe. The only place that moved was round their middle. You never saw their shoulders raise up a down, just the middle. Now take one of your hands and place it on your stomach and the other on your chest. Take a breath in and out and start to notice which hand or hands move. This simple exercise can tell us a lot about what your inner core strength might be like. Now notice when you breathe do you breathe through your mouth or through your nose. This is also another clue to what your deep inner core is up to.
What do you mean by deep inner core? I hear you say. We are talking about Intra abdominal pressure (IAP). This is the connection between your diaphragm and pelvic floor (yes, men and women both have pelvic floors). The two are connected via an internal pump system. The diaphragm is a sheet of muscle that lines all the way around the inside of the ribcage, not just the front. The pelvic floor is again a sheet of muscle, this time, lining all the way round the inside of the pelvic bowl.
When a baby breathes in the diaphragm pushes down this squidges your internal organs down and out slightly. The down movement puts a downward stretch on the pelvic floor, the outputs a stretch on all the deep core muscles – front, back middle and side. On the breathe out the stretched pelvic floor and stretched deep middle muscles all then contract. This forms the deep pump system – IAP. This IAP forms the very foundations of your core. This is the core we all want to be developing for support not relying on the rippling six-pack muscles that you see in pictures. These are more superficial core muscle that act like scaffolding for the foundations!
If we stop breathing from our centre, we tend to move up to becoming chest breathers. If and when you become a chest breather you stop the lengthening and contracting of the deep (foundation) core. This stops your bodies IAP system from working, reducing the strength of your deep core. When the deep core strength decreases other parts of the body begin to lock up to become the core. This can be seen in locked up backs, hips and knees, infact almost any joint can take on this roll if it is needed.
A great first step to getting rid of your pain would be to check how you are breathing!
Tune in to the next blog to find out why we might become a chest breather. Until then the link below is my podcast all about breathing with exercises to help train back breathing from your centre.