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Written by Lucy Hendricks

Do you believe your body is only capable of low-level activities such as restorative yoga and Pilates? Has a medical professional scared you out of ever lifting weights? Have you tried lifting weights by yourself or with a trainer but ended up hurt and feeling miserable?

If so, let me share a secret with you. Did you know people breathe over 20,000 times a day? Any movement performed that many times will have an effect on the rest of the body and its ability to move and perform well.

When new clients first walk into our gym, like most people, they’re not using the right muscles to optimally breathe – just as they don’t use the right muscles when they’re first learning basic movement patterns in the beginning of their program.

Breathing sits right at the top of the hierarchy of movements that clients work on mastering, along with squatting, hinging, pressing and pulling.

The body is an amazing compensator. When the diaphragm and core muscles are not doing their jobs, the body quickly finds a way to keep you alive, because if you can’t breathe, you’re dead. Say HELLO to overused neck muscles, tight shoulders, a stiff lower back and short hip flexors. It’s no wonder every new client seems to have issues with their hips, neck and lower back. Over 20,000 times a day, they’re using those areas to breathe for them.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have the work evenly distributed throughout the body so your tight, overused muscles wouldn’t have to work so hard day in and day out? Fortunately, just as clients can retrain their bodies to pick things up with their leg muscles vs. their lower back muscles, they can also retrain themselves to use their diaphragm and core to be their primary breathing muscles.

Not only does breathing retraining help ease the most common movement restrictions and limitations, it also transfers over into the weight room, allowing clients to lift weights without hurting themselves.

Would you like your lower back, neck and knees to do the squatting for you? Or would you like your abs, glutes and hamstrings to take over and help you have a pain- free, strong and stable squat? If you work on your breathing, there’s no reason for you not to have a pain-free squat.

Breathing retraining is the foundation to a good strength-training program. It helps you gain access to movements that are required for you to hinge with a straight back, press without impinging your shoulder, lift without pulling your back and squat without hurting your knees.

Building a strong foundation from the beginning of any workout regimen is the key component to pain-free strength training. Lifting weights shouldn’t hurt. Not even a little bit. You shouldn’t feel miserable or in pain during the training session or the day after.

If you want to start building your solid foundation, begin by doing this one exercise once a day:

90/90 Breathing

Starting Position Lay: on the ground with your hips and knees at a 90-degree angle with your feet on a stool or chair.

Directions: Push your feet straight down into the chair while slightly picking up your pelvis. You should feel the back of your thighs engaged. Your lower back should be flat on the ground, not arched off the ground. Place both hands on the bottom of your front rib cage below your chest. Keep this position and begin the breathing sequence.

Breathing Sequence: Inhale silently through your nose. FULLY exhale through your mouth. You should feel your front ribs drop the longer you exhale (this a good thing!). At the end of the exhale, you should feel your abdominal muscles kicking in. Hold your air out for three to five seconds. Try to keep those abdominals on and your ribs dropped as you silently breathe through your nose. Repeat three to five times. The goal for this exercise is to achieve a full exhalation, get your hamstrings cooking in the back of your thighs and feel your core muscles work.

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Lexington Healing Arts Academy
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