You’ll want to get a hack for this
You'll be amazed to know that we breath at least 20,000 times a day, yet we take it for granted and assume we can breathe correctly.
Poor breathing and function was one of the things we really wanted to ensure we solved in bike fit and cycing technique. Most riders are not even aware of their challenge yet when they are taught to perform it correctly it strengthened not only respiratory function but core strength and more.
Breathing life sustaining and of course endurance maintaining and its Step 3 in our Forward Motion cycling technique and its Step 3 where 8/10 cyclists who visit for a fitting and improvement in their technique don't even realise they have a problem with their breathing function.
Try this little test now..
Stand up and take in a long breathe, then do it sitting down - ideally video yourself if you can and observe what happens.
Most riders have what we refer to as paradoxical breathing. That is when they inhale they expand their chest and suck in their tummy. For those who are not aware the chest should not expand a great deal on a normal breath and the tummy should expand on an inhale. Breathing this way requires miniml effort. Breathing in a paradoxical manner requires significantly more energy so multiply that by 20,000 for normal breathing and it adds up to a lot of work. Mangify the frequency and depth under load and breathing becomes costly, fatiguing and ineffective for gas exchange.
The body is a survivor rather than a thriver and is able to adapt to challenges in the easiest way and happily take short cuts to work around insufficicenies caused by postual limitations that inhibit your normal breathing pattern force your body to compensate. Over time this becomes your regular breathing pattern. We are mostly not taught how to breathe and how to improve it so we don;t have an awareness of the problem or how to improve it.
Two common postural prblems that cause breathing:
1. Anterior compression of the trunk
By flexing forward while sitting, be it in a chair or on a bike, you compress your tummy and the organs are pushed against the diapragm. Without the ability to expand and push the tummy out you need to work around and so we activate the secondary respiratory muscles and start to lift the chest and breath in the upper chest. This forced requirment then becomes the regular pathway by which we breath in all activites.
2. Forward head position
When your head moves forward from your normal spinal alignment - ie it is not stacked along the same line it has an impact on the mounth and neck and airflow. The body starts adjusting head position to compensate and get better airflow. This upsets regular breathing and gas exchange and over time changes the way we breath, sit and stand.
What type of breather are you?
If you observed how you take in a long breath great, if not do it now.
If you moved vertically then you are not brething effecicintly - if your tumy went in you are paradoxical
If your tummy moved out with minimal chest movement you are a horizontal breather - the better way
If you moved vertically and horizontally then you are what some refer to as a hybrid breather
If you are a bike rider also check how your breathing functions on the bike and most of us generally cheat ourselves a little bit when armed with a bit of information because we want a better result but trust me you can;t cheat this under the extremes of load and fatigue so just be hoest and practical.
How to improve..
The first thing to do is practice your brething in every day activity and ensure you remove the postural blocks that your body finds ways around. Learn to stack your spine and head correctly to reduce the long term effects of forward head position and anterior compression of the tummy to limit the diaphragm function.
When it comes to improving on the bike you need to be able to get into the correct postural position.
1. Learn to stack, hinge and reach to align the spine
2. Learn to decompress and strengthen the spine.
3. Learn to anchor the scapula and arm correctly to support body weight and enable breathing function,
4. Learn the brething cues and hack your way to better riding.
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