Does Breathwork Help Treating Sports Injuries?
As athletes and fitness enthusiasts, we often focus on working our muscles, improving our technique and pushing our limits. However, an important aspect that is often overlooked is the role of proper breathing in sports injuries prevention.
Breathing is a fundamental process that delivers oxygen to our hard-working muscles and removes carbon dioxide. When done incorrectly, it can lead to inefficient movement, muscle tension and ultimately injury. In this article, we will explore the problems caused by improper breathing during physical activity, the benefits of correct breathing techniques, and how breathwork can play an important role in sports injury rehabilitation.
Table of Contents
- Does Breathwork Help Treating Sports Injuries?
- Mastering the Art of Proper Breathing
- What are the Benefits of Breathwork in the Treatment of Sports Injuries?
- Breath Hub: Your Breath Guide for Sports Injury Treatment
What are the Effects of Breathing Improperly?
Breathing incorrectly during our exercises can have detrimental effects on our bodies. Inadequate breathing and holding our breath can cause chronic headaches; pain in the hands, neck and back; and increased discomfort in already inflamed areas. Furthermore, breathing incorrectly can lead to rapid fatigue, poor performance and dizziness.
Fatigue is a common catalyst for injuries as it leads to loss of control over muscle movements. When we don’t breathe correctly, we put additional stress on our body, causing our muscles to fatigue more quickly and increasing the risk of injury. Furthermore, poor breathing triggers the release of stress hormones, further increasing the tension our bodies are under during physical activity.
What is the Role of Rhythmic Breathing in Exercise?
- Rhythmic breathing during physical exertion is very important to maintain the stability of your core. As we exhale, the muscles in our diaphragm relax, reducing core stability. In the most demanding phases of exercise, this lack of stability creates a space for injuries. It is very important to be aware of the precise timing of inhalation and exhalation during each movement to ensure the best and correct breathing pattern. By practicing controlled, conscious and rhythmic breathing we gain precise control over the muscles of our body.
- Breathing, like any exercise, requires training and practice. As we focus on controlling specific muscles during our physical activities, we must remember to do the same with breathing. Neglecting proper breathing techniques can increase the risk of injury by leaving our core unbalanced during intense activity. For example, exhaling at the peak of stress during an exercise movement such as lifting weights and inhaling when lowering the weight can help maintain balance and reduce the likelihood of injury.
What are the Benefits of Proper Breathing During Exercise?
- Proper breathing isn’t just about inhaling and exhaling; it involves breathing in the right way for a more efficient and safe physical performance. Just like any other physical activity, it is a skill that takes time to develop.
- Breathing correctly engages the diaphragm and abdominal muscles, which are often overlooked during exercise. Allowing our lungs to expand to their maximum capacity during proper breathing allows us to perform better. Our muscles need oxygen to work properly and efficiently. The more oxygen we can supply through our circulatory system, the better our muscles can work. Also, breathing correctly helps to keep stress levels low, ensures that our working muscles and tissues receive the necessary oxygen and keeps our joints lubricated.
Mastering the Art of Proper Breathing
Belly breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, is the best way to get the right flow of air into our body. Many people tend to breathe through their chest. This can lead to fatigue because the chest muscles are smaller than the core muscles.
By relying on our abdomen to breathe, we can use the diaphragm to stabilize our muscles and provide them with enough oxygen when they need it most. But breathing correctly requires practice, training and constant awareness. We can learn the technique of abdominal breathing by starting from still positions such as lying down, sitting or standing.
It is very important to focus on keeping the upper chest and shoulders still during each inhalation and exhalation. When inhaling, the belly should rise, not the chest. Practicing the technique through both the nose and mouth can further improve our breathing skills.
What Is the Connection Between Correct Breathing and Sports Injuries?
Many sports injuries can be attributed, at least in part, to incorrect breathing patterns. The diaphragm plays a crucial role in maintaining core stability through the control of intra-abdominal pressure. This pressure is similar to a cylinder, i.e. the diaphragmatic valve, the abdominal wall muscles form the front and sides, the small spine muscles form the back and the pelvic floor muscles form the base. When properly activated and coordinated, this cylinder provides true core stability by supporting and aligning the spine and providing a strong and stable platform for our limbs to move. However, when the cylinder is not properly activated, muscles that should be dedicated to positioning and strengthening our movements are forced to help stabilize the cylinder, resulting in problematic tension and an increased risk of injury.
How to Practice Diaphragmatic Breathing?
- Find a comfortable space: Choose a quiet and comfortable space where you can lie on your back without any distractions.
- Lie on your back: Place yourself on a flat surface, such as a yoga mat or bed, with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Make sure your spine is aligned and your body is comfortable.
- Hand placement: Place one hand on your upper chest, just below your collarbones, and the other hand around your navel. Keep your fingers comfortably and gently over these areas.
- Take a slow and deep breath: Breathe slowly and deeply through your nose. Focus on breathing deeply into your belly, allowing your belly to rise as you fill your lungs with air. Notice the sensation of your breath as it enters your body.
- Observe hand movements: Observe which hand moves first and more as you breathe. Ideally, the hand on your belly should rise more than the hand on your chest. This indicates that your diaphragm is properly activated.
- Expand the breath towards the rib cage: Continue to breathe slowly and deeply, allowing your breath to expand from the base of your rib cage. Feel your rib cage expanding outwards and to the sides. Visualize the breath filling the entire space of your rib cage.
- Complete the breath: As you reach the later stages of your breathing, you may notice a slight movement in the upper parts of your rib cage. This is normal, but the actual expansion should take place in the lower areas of your rib cage and abdomen.
- Exhale slowly: Once you have completed a full inhalation, exhale slowly through your mouth, allowing the breath to leave your body in a controlled manner. Focus on completely emptying the air from your lungs.
- Repeat the exercise: Take a minute to rest and then repeat the exercise several times, focusing on the correct breathing pattern. Each time, observe the movement of your hands and make sure that your belly rises more than your chest during inhalation.
- Progress to different positions: Once you feel comfortable and confident with diaphragm activation in the lying position, you can move on to practicing the exercises in other positions, such as sitting or standing. Keep the same focus on deep, abdominal breathing and observe the movement of your hands to ensure correct diaphragm activation.
What are the Benefits of Breathwork in the Treatment of Sports Injuries?
Breathwork, the conscious use of breathing exercises and techniques, can contribute significantly to the treatment of sports injuries. By incorporating breathwork into the healing process, athletes can increase their overall recovery and improve their performance. Breathwork helps regulate stress levels, promotes relaxation and improves the mind-body connection.
Deep, controlled breathing activates the body’s relaxation response, reducing muscle tension and promoting a sense of calm. By incorporating breathing techniques into rehabilitation exercises, athletes can improve their range of motion, enhance proprioception and increase overall body awareness. Breathwork can also help with pain management, as deep breathing triggers the release of endorphins, our body’s natural painkillers. In addition, breathwork can support the healing process and shorten recovery time by increasing oxygen delivery to injured tissues.
Breath Hub: Your Breath Guide for Sports Injury Treatment
If you want to incorporate breathwork into your sports injury treatments, the Breath Hub app will be the perfect guide for you.
Breath Hub offers a wide range of breathing exercises and techniques specifically designed to support injury recovery and enhance athletic performance. With easy-to-follow instructions and customizable programs, Breath Hub can help you optimize your breathing pattern, improve your core stability and prevent future injuries.