If you have been in one of my classes recently, especially on days where we are deadlifting, squatting or doing a lift overhead, you have probably heard me talk about taking a good belly breath and bracing before your lift. In fancy terms, this is called creating intra-abdominal pressure (IAP). Basically what I am asking you to do is properly align your spine and then push out through your breath in order to create stability.
When we think “core” we traditionally think of a chiseled six pack of abs. As a society, we are obsessed with abs. Everyone wants that six pack, or if you are super in shape maybe even an eight pack!! So what do we do in order to get that look? We focus on movements that build that small group of muscles….AND we suck in!
What does sucking in and only focusing on one small part of our core create? Improper stabilization of our trunk and the inability to maintain proper spinal position.
And what does that cause?? You guessed it….back issues, pains, strains and injury.
Have you ever watched a baby breath? We have plenty around the box so next time you are there, take a minute and watch. They are champs at belly breathing! Mostly because they haven’t had the chance to mess it up yet and they don’t care about the societal preference to have flat, cut abs. They push it out with pride!
I’m not asking or expecting you all to walk around with your belly pushed out but achieving proper core function and trunk stabilization does require a shift in mindset. Instead of worrying about your abs, worry about your core. Your core is everything below your neck and above your pelvic floor. If you can get your core to function optimally, your ability to properly maintain spinal alignment will increase. This will translate directly to your ability to lift and optimize your performance during workouts.
An easy first step is to simply focus on your breath.
Practice belly breathing and begin to incorporate proper breathing and bracing into your lifts. If you use a weight belt, understand the reason behind it. The belt isn’t intended to keep your back straight. The reason you wear a weight belt is to assist you in creating IAP. You should breathe into your belly and push out your core into your weight belt, allowing you to create IAP. Your belt should not be so tight that you can’t take a good, deep belly breath and brace.
So how do you learn to belly breath?? Come hang out with me! I am going to hold a Breath & Bracing Clinic on Sunday, December 3rd at 1PM. You will learn how to properly breathe and brace to stabilize your spine, begin to correct lower back and pelvic floors issues resulting from improper core function, and optimize your strength and power through your breath.