Stretching has always had many great benefits and has become especially important in recent times as the vast majority of us spend a good deal of time at a desk or in a car.  Now, more than ever to off-set our current, much more sedentary lifestyle, stretching does a number of wonderful things for the body including:

  • Enhances blood flow to the muscle
  • Reduces risk of muscle atrophy
  • Keeps you feeling younger

Muscle tightness can be caused by sitting for long periods of time. This can have a “shortening” effect on the muscles. When you attempt a stretch in this “fight or flight” state, your range of motion is limited, and you cannot obtain the full benefits of stretching. This is where breathing enters the picture.

Types of Breathing

Today we tested two different methods of breathing to see what effect each has on hamstring flexibility; chest, and diaphragmatic (belly) breathing. Most people today perform chest breathing where you lift your chest up but a much healthier type of breathing (which has been making news) is diaphragmatic (belly breathing), you push your belly out and fill up more of your lungs with air. 

Chest Breathing

Have you ever looked down at your Apple Watch, or Fit Bit and it suggested you stop for a second and take a deep breathe?  This message may appear when you are busy and/or stressed with an elevated respiratory rate caused by “Chest Breathing.” 

 

The picture to the left shows Daniel lifting Kailee’s leg to the point of resistance. This simple test tells us at what point the stretch reflex becomes engaged. It is important to note, this is not actually stretching, but an assessment performed to help our trainers gain an understanding of the client’s body mechanics. 

 

 

Belly Breathing

Belly breathing helps to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which is often referred to as the “rest and digest system.”

Belly breathing:

  • Conserves energy by slowing the heart rate
  • Can reduce blood pressure, which is what most people need after being in a stressed state for too long
  • Allows you to “reset” your mind and get more out of your stretch.

The picture to the left shows Daniel lifting Kailee’s leg to the point of resistance. This simple test tells us at what point the stretch reflex becomes engaged. It is important to note, this is not actually stretching, but an assessment performed to help our trainers gain an understanding of the client’s body mechanics. 

Side Note:  This type of Breathing Technique is used in Meditation and/or relaxation techniques. Practicing belly breathing can be a great way to start your day, start a lifting session, or escape a stressful situation at work. 

Breathing Methods at the Athletic Room

Coming soon to the Athletic Room we will incorporate proper breathing in our Stretch – Mobility sessions to settle down the “stretch reflex” and allow for more of your body to unlock for greater range of motion. 

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