Have you ever wondered why there is so much emphasis on breath in Pilates?
When you first begin Pilates, there is so much to learn and the focus for breathing may simply be not
holding your breath during your exercises. Breathing can also be used as a tool to improve how you do Pilates, enabling you to get more out of the exercises.
Breathing can be used to:
- Facilitate movement by increasing the range available as well as the efficiency of the movement. Directing the breath to certain areas can help facilitate movement. For example, with side lying exercises we can aim to breath into the lower part of the top lung, thus increasing expansion of the rib cage. This can then help to facilitate movements into rotation and lateral bending. Focusing on the breath can also improve the efficiency of an exercise and movement in general. Certain movements will be easier with an exhalation or inhalation. If we focus on this, it may help reduce excess muscle activity allowing our movement to become more efficient and the focus to be on the correct muscles to strengthen.
- Improve the muscle patterning around the neck, upper back, and shoulder girdle. The diaphragm is the main breathing muscle. We have other muscles around our neck and shoulders that are secondary muscles for breathing, normally used with more effort. Changes in muscle patterning because of injury, pain, or postural habits can result in these secondary muscles being over utilised for normal breathing. In turn, this can lead to more loading on the neck and shoulder and reduces the efficiency of breathing. With the secondary muscles more active in breathing, the breath tends to be concentrated in the upper lungs and does not facilitate the breath into the lower lobes of the lungs. This can contribute to tightness and stiffness in the upper back and rib cage as these areas do not expand as much as they would with normal diaphragmatic breathing.
- Improve posture. Stiffness in the thoracic area and ribs can lead to a more rounded upper back and a forward head posture. These postural changes can lead to more loading on certain areas such as the neck, shoulders, and upper back. Focusing on a normal breathing pattern can mobilise the ribs and spine all while reducing tension in the body.
- Add further challenge to a movement. Certain movements lean towards a certain breath pattern. We can team these movements to the breath pattern – using inhalation and exhalation to facilitate and increase the movement. Conversely, we can change up the pattern to challenge the body a little bit more.
If you would like further information on this with view to beginning pilates please contact the Back in Strength office on 6282 9992 or book an assessment online.