TOOLS: When it comes to breathing, many cyclists think “Hey, if I didn’t die, I certainly do it right!” Unfortunately, this is not the case, and our bad breath can prevent us from unleashing our full potential and speed, as well as unnecessarily prolonging our recovery.

We all need to breathe

What happens when you breathe well?
For a cyclist who rides for many hours in a forward position, often crunching, this position and the time spent in it can have a huge negative impact on an athlete’s ability to breathe, as well as limit the ability of the shoulders to move. It affects cycling, makes us less efficient and imperceptibly changes posture outside the bike, affecting our daily lives. But learning to breathe properly can give you a huge boost in your strength and recovery.

If we breathe well, the upper chest will expand the ribs up and forward, allowing us to open the ribs and fill the lungs. This is due to the movement of the chest up and out, and the ribs on our sides move in the joints in the upper back along the spine.

Yes, ribs have joints in your spine that need to move. If these joints do not move, over time you will suffer from side stitches and neck pain even during your simplest trips, when other muscles, called auxiliary muscles, work to help you breathe.

In the lower back, when we inhale air with good breath, we are able to create pressure in our stomach, allowing the hips and pelvic floor muscles to move together to provide better stabilization of our core, helping us produce more energy for the pedal.

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Good breath versus bad breath
Good breathing allows the pelvis to move back slightly when we inhale, which is important for our pedaling on the bike, as our hip hole is more open and able to move. Then, when we exhale, the pelvis moves slightly forward, which can reduce the range of motion in the hip joint and thus lose the force of pedaling.

Every good breath requires the pelvic floor muscles to work together and in chorus with our diaphragm to contract and relax, allowing our joints to move through contraction and expansion, which affects how and what each of our muscles will do when asked. work.

Respiration also interacts directly with our nervous system and heart function. When we inhale, the heart rate increases and heart rate variability decreases. At the same time there is an increase in the activation of the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight). When we exhale, the opposite happens.

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With poor breathing patterns, if we do not expand the chest and move the hips with these natural back and forth movements, over time it can cause our hips to lose the ability to move either the legs and feet. This loss of internal and external hip rotation can lead to low back problems, which has been shown in a number of studies to contribute greatly to low back pain and problems.

When we have bad breath, our body’s ability to control inflammation is reduced. Poor breathing creates ischemia (poor blood flow to the area), which can intensify the pain. If we’re not careful, we may even get stuck in “State of exhalation”, which can increase our dependence on the glycolytic energy system by affecting our ability to function.

How do breathing and respiration affect our recovery?
Nervous system recovery is an incredibly forgotten area in our recovery from ride to ride, and how quickly we can get back on the bike, and “go again” at the same intensity. One of the key principles of performance is the ability to quickly begin the recovery process after effort and after travel. Improper breathing, however, can worsen this process and keep us stressed.

When we are in such a tense state with “Fight or run” In the mode of the show, many processes in the body are disrupted because our body is so focused on “Fight or run”everything else is off.

This means that:
1. We cannot properly digest food to restore energy balance and bring in nutrients that will help repair the damage caused by our life stress and exercise.

2. Blood pressure can remain high – over time this leads to the destruction of blood vessels (examples of which are diabetics who leave high blood pressure without treatment).

3. Body temperature can also remain high, affecting our body’s ability to regulate temperature, thus affecting many metabolic processes in the body.

4. Our muscles can remain tense, leaving them at a length that is not ideal for performance and can interfere with rebuilding and building muscle mass.

5. Our immune system remains on standby, limiting the body’s ability to repair soft tissues, which over time can lead to poor tissue quality, health problems and even injuries.

These changes and more, when we are in the midst of training or racing, are necessary adaptations because they allow us to work. However if we stay in it “Warning” condition after our workouts, it will have an extremely negative impact on our performance and fitness.

What is 360 degree breathing and why is it important?
The whole body responds to changes in internal pressure that occur when we have proper 360 degree breathing. This 360 degree breathing concept is absolutely essential for understanding how to breathe incorrectly and how we need to get movement in all 3 planes of movement (forward and backward, side to side and up and down) to allow the body to function better. everything.

360-degree breathing involves:
1. The upper chest should move up and out like an old water pump, affecting the position of the shoulder and the movement of the shoulder.

2. The lower chest should be able to move away and move away from the spine when we inhale like a pen on a can of paint that will affect how we can inhale and exhale, thus have a big impact on how we can get a lot of airflow. If you don’t get all the air you can, you’re just fooling yourself with oxygen!

3. The pelvis should move forward (so-called nutation) and backward (so-called counternutation) and affect the position of the hip hole and can greatly affect the movement of the thigh.

Get started with improved breathing
To help you learn to breathe properly and take the best position to recover and deal with stress, we are going to use an exercise called “Crocodile breathing” (video above). If you listened 69 series of Fast Talk on VeloNews, when Chris and Trevor interviewed me, you remember that Trevor sank to the floor to perform this exercise, and Chris told me how he moves.

While this may seem like fun and games, it’s actually a great way to help you understand what your good and bad breathing habits are. We can see the extension of the upper torso between the shoulder blades, the pelvis rolling back on the inhale and the rolling forward on the exhale.

But in Trevor’s case, as in many of us who ride a lot, his pelvis got stuck and he couldn’t “turn off” this sympathetic response when he inhaled. As we mentioned above, this is often a large red flag indicating a cascade of negatives “Stress content” systemic changes in the body that have been triggered, all due to poor breathing.

Try Crocodile Breath before and after rides and train for good and full 360 degree breathing. While it may take a few weeks to see significant changes, many athletes I prescribe often report “feeling different” (in a good way) for 5-10 days after turning them on.

If you think crocodile breathing is easy and you can do it right, give it a try Breathing hands over head (video above). By bringing your arms over your head and keeping your ribs down, it adds a whole new level of difficulty and challenge. If you have a sore shoulder or you have lost some shoulder function, read my work How an endurance athlete can soothe a shoulder that hates them, from the Tony Gentlecore website.

Until next time, don’t forget to train smarter, not harder, because it’s all up to YOU!

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Menachem Brody is a U.S.-level cycling expert trainer, SICI Certified Bicycle Master and NSCA Certified Power and Air Conditioning Specialist. For the past 10 years he has worked with athletes from around the world to become slimmer, faster and stronger through strength and athletic training. He has provided international strength training for cyclists and triathletes and is the author of 2 reputable online courses:
Strength training for cycling success
Strength training for success in triathlon
Both are available at University TrainingPeaks
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