It’s all in the Breath…. – CrossFit Resurgence

It’s all in the Breath….

Lately in the news you can hear about the benefits of improved breathing!! Breathing!!!  I thought I had at least this one down for God’s sake!!  What can be more automatic than breathing!!  Well at last it seems there are better ways to do just about everything these days and breathing is just another example of it :-).  I recently attended 2 very different breathing seminars but the take home is the same and so I’d like to share a little bit of what I learned with you.  First off… What’s in it for me!!??, 

Well.. Here are some of the scientifically known benefits:

 Increased oxygenation to the brain!!  


brain-oxygen-effects-hypocapnia-hyperventilation Less than 10% of us actually breathe well enough to fully oxygenate our brains and use them to our full capacity… (  Normal respiration only requires us to take 6-12 breaths per minute (some would say 6-8).  Anything over that is hyperventilating, which is a condition where we are blowing off too much of our carbon dioxide (CO2).  Contrary to belief CO2 is actually what regulates the need for breath, not oxygen.. Oxygen is the byproduct of breathing air and with the right timing and CO2 levels we can oxygenate all of our tissues and organs well enough for increased energy (ATP) production and mental clarity and focus.  Are you in the 10%??  Without now changing your breathing rate and depth now that we’ve talked about it ;-)… Get yourself a stopwatch and without a change to your regular breathing pattern -hold your breath at the end of a normal exhalation…. How long can you make it without feeling discomfort??  If you made it to 40– congratulations!!  However make sure you weren’t feeling to anxiety during it.. ( I made it to 12!!). 

Vasodilation:  Carbon Dioxide is a potent vasodilator, it relaxes blood vessels allowing for good exchange of nutrients, oxygen and blood flow to our vital organs and systems.  One of the reasons breathing in and out of our noses is so essential is that it slows down the flow of air exchange and prevents us from breathing off too much of our carbon dioxide.  Try this exercise at home…..  Sit on the floor–crosslegged (indian) style if you’ve got it and close your eyes… breath for 1 min in an out with your mouth wide open… Pay attention to how your body feels… stressed?? Pains?? Just notice…. Then do the same mouth closed and tongue at the roof of your mouth if you can manage it..  What do you feel now??  Any differences or changes??  Breathing in and out of our mouths puts our body into a sympathetic response..(think fight or flight), Whereas nasal breathing triggers on the parasympathetic nervous system (relaxation). How often should you breathe out of your mouth then??  Some would say.. NEVER!  Buteyko breathing has a saying…”You should breathe out of your mouth as often as you eat out of your nose!”…. Nice visual huh.. lol.  The idea definitely gives new thought to the endurance athlete… I don’t know that I could ever get through a CF workout without breathing out of my mouth .. but man if I could I know i’d be hitting ALOT of PR’s!!!  Some endurance athletes are now training with their mouths taped shut to increase their VO2 numbers.

Decreased Blood Pressure: Nitric oxide is also produced as a byproduct of breathing through your nose.  Receptors for this vasodilator in the body reside in the nose.. Increases up to 15 times the norm were produced in research done on healthy individuals mouth vs nasal breathing.. higher increases with nasal breathing and humming if you’d like to hum a little tune while your working :-)… The vasodilation decreases blood pressure naturally in the body.. Maybe you won’t need that blood pressure medicine afterall …

Decreased Congestion: Breathing through your nose while also humidifying, warming and increasing natural moisture for your body systems (up to 1 liter a day) , decreases the chronic congestion you may be feeling every day.. Try it!  Take a couple of slow deep breaths through your nose right now… Did it help??  If your a person with chronic sinus issues.. this one really makes a difference!!

OK, OK…There are PLENTY more but you get the idea….  Sooo.. HOW do I breathe better???


This is where you can find different techniques from different sources but as you check more and more of them out you can notice the same themes reoccurring…

1) Pay attention… Just like anything else, if you pay attention to it and practice a couple times a day it will eventually be an automatic habit.  start by lying on the floor.. I hand on you stomach one on your chest.. Which one’s rising 1st??

diaphragm breath-1It should be your abdomen.. In fact, once you have that going place your hands around your sides and try to blow them up with your inhale.. Like a balloon.  When you do this you realize the chest doesn’t need to move at all!! And the increased use of your diaphragm will strengthen your core musculature and massage those gastrointestinal organs leading to better digestion as well!!

2) Now try this…. Sitting upright, focus on lips together, tongue at the roof of your mouth, teeth apart and plug your ears…. Can you hear yourself breathing??  You shouldn’t! focus on breathing into the abdomen like above until the respiration is noiseless!!  Oh– and tongue at the roof of your mouth..  decreases the dead space in your airway providing the best possible oxygenation … It should be a leak free system!

3) Breathe Right strips—  They are not sexy but then again neither is snoring!  If your having trouble getting a full breath in and changing to this new way of thinking the breathe right strips can work… There’s a reason we are seeing them with professional athletes these days.. they work!  Also if you are one to get congested at night or feel you switch to mouth breathing while your sleeping try these and see how much better you feel in the morning.

Well that’s the quick and dirty version.. If you want to research this more look into Buteyko Breathing, Restorative or Diaphragmatic breathing links online… There’s a plethora of information out there.  Also we will be adding some breathing stuff to our cool downs if you haven’t already seen them and if you hear me yelling to take a deep breathe through your nose during the wod.. You’ll at least have an idea of where I’m coming from  :-)…. Pulling you out of fight or flight long enough to oxygenate that brain and get you a few more reps on the board!!

Wod on!  Coach T-



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