Instructions For Diaphragmatic Breathing

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    Admin Mediterra
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    Here are some instructions for how to insert Diaphragmatic Breathing into swimming and making a lifestyle habit for you.

    When you rest at the wall, place one hand flat below your navel and breathe deeply so that each inhale presses that hand out (bulging the belly) and each exhale pulls the hand back in toward the spine. On the inhale you can feel the diaphragm pushing downward on the intestines and the pelvic floor for a good visceral massage. If nothing else, practice this breathing while resting, so that you can get a better recovery. 

    Now, working on this while swimming may fill up your attention. You may need to set aside other focal points for the stroke for a moment. 

    When swimming, concentrate on the exhale part – the compression of the diaphragm. You can then let the inhale (mostly) take care of itself. The breathing cycle is greatly asymmetric, with a long period with the face underwater and a very brief moment (or should be very brief!) where you take a sip of air. As you turn the face down to begin the non-breathing strokes, start by holding the breath and then gradually increasing exhale up to the point your face turns to the air again on the next breathing stroke. You regulate this rate and the total volume of air you exhale all from the compression of your diaphragm. 

    To moderate that, while swimming, do not make a massive exhale – don’t come close to emptying your lungs. This will induce more stress and desperation into each inhale. Rather, on each breath cycle practice exchanging just 1/3 to 1/2 of the air volume, leaving a good portion in reserve. You’ve got enough oxygen in the blood to keep you going (which is why CPR breathing works). That partial exhale will relieve carbon dioxide levels in the blood which is triggering the initial urge to breath anyway. 

    Outside of pool practice time, you may lay in plank position, long and braced, and then practice breathing from the belly. This will show you how one set of muscles can be activated to bridge and stabilize the middle zone of your body while there is still room and enough relaxed muscle and tissue to permit full, deep breathing. In plank (and variations of it) I always practice diaphragmatic breathing and only through the nose. I count breaths to measure time in that position, which further reinforces full, earnest breaths.  

    You can practice this breathing just about anywhere in daily life, when ever it comes to mind. Even doing just two or three breaths this way at random times of the day – sitting, standing, driving, cooking, laying down – can gradually retrain your self to breathe this way again. The more you do it on land as a habit, the more easily it will transfer into your swimming.

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