As we discussed in the “Understanding the Critical Core Canister” post, the most significant thing you can do to improve the health of your client (and her growing baby during pregnancy) is to optimize her deep core function. Specifically, we want to train her “Core Canister” (diaphragm, TVA, and pelvic floor muscles) to function properly as a pump in order to provide all the benefits of preventing pregnancy pains/injuries, reducing stress, improving immunity and digestion, facilitating better pushing, speeding her recovery, and creating a healthier growth environment for her baby. And how do we activate this Core Canister Pump? With proper 360° Breathing.
To illustrate further just how important proper breathing mechanics are, Paul Chek once estimated that poor breathing plays a role in about 70% of the issues that would cause a person to see a doctor. Again, this is because breathing is the body’s “master regulator,” impacting nearly every single system (nervous, gastrointestinal, hormonal, cognitive, musculoskeletal, etc….).
To achieve proper breathing mechanics, we teach a technique called 360° Breathing. Watch the video below to learn how to do it.
360° Breathing ensures optimal use of the diaphragm, and proper pumping coordination of the core canister muscles. In other words, with each breath, the following happens:
- Inhale: Diaphragm contracts (pulls down), as the TVA and Pelvic Floor relax (TVA expands outward, PF relaxes downward)
- Exhale: Diaphragm relaxes (rises back up), as the TVA and Pelvic Floor contract (TVA pulls inward and PF pulls upward)
This is more for you to understand, and not to consciously think about with each breath. Just focus on 360° expansion with inhale, and navel drawing in as a result of the exhale, and it will all happen naturally!
Incorporating 360°Breathing Into Movement
The goal with your clients should be to train them to 360° Breathe naturally — throughout their workout and their everyday life. So, use the following progression to teach the technique and then ingrain it into their movements.
- Master Isolated 360° Breathing. Make sure she understands how to perform the technique on its own in a seated position before you try incorporating it into movement. Once she masters this, she can progress to other positions like standing and quadruped. If your client struggles in a seated position, take her to supine. If she still struggles, try this strategy for correcting poor breathing.
- Incorporate 360° Breathing into movement. Always remember “exhale on the effort” (during exercise and daily life). You may need to break some movements into multiple breaths. And remember, the navel pulls to the spine as a result of the exhale.
- Match intensity of exhale to intensity of movement. The greater the intensity (or instability) of the movement, the stronger the exhale (and resulting core engagement) should be. For example, performing standing squats with no weights would not require nearly as strong of an exhale as performing a reverse lunge to a knee balance.
Remember that in order to perform 360° Breathing correctly, the body must first be in proper neutral alignment in order to access the Core Canister muscles. So be sure to get your client in optimal alignment first.