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TN50 #69, Stiff Diaphragm? We Should Fix That! 25 April 2022

Hi Team,

Happy Monday and welcome to The Next 50 #69.  So, I’m out on a run last week on a very windy day and I have my sweat Garmin chest strap heart rate (HR) monitor on.  I am less than ½ a mile into my run cruising up this slight grade as my HR is just getting up to around 125.  I take a left onto a flat road and into the wind and within a minute my HR is up in the 160’s, did I mention that the wind was blowing really hard?  I am checking my watch to see if something is wrong with my gear since I do not perceive this level of effort and now my HR is up above 170!  That’s when it hit me, when I turned into the wind all my focus was on bracing against the wind, my breathing technique had gone from quiet and deep to shallow and hard as I was bracing my entire core against the wind all my breathing was up in my chest.  I stopped focusing on my HR monitor and started focusing on keeping a braced midline while, at the same time, allowing my diaphragm to move and got my breath back down deep in my belly, within a minute or two my HR was back down around 135 and I maintained my Zone 2 HR for the rest of the run, for me Zone 2 is 135 – 145 but I plan to do a lactate threshold test in the next few weeks to verify my zones (sidenote: masterclass on Z2 training)

Anyway, this made me think about the fact that a few of you might not have ever thought about or learned a technique to make sure you can soften up your diaphragm and breath better.  Your goal should be to breath light, deep and through your nose all day, or as much of your day as possible according to Patrick McKeown, the author of my favorite book on breathing, The Oxygen Advantage.  Here is a stripped-down version of Patrick’s recommendation on Relaxing and Activating the Diaphragm (The Oxygen Advantage, pg. 257).  This is a good warm up technique before exercise to make sure the diaphragm is ready to move and if this is all new to you it is a good start point for your first “I’m gonna learn how to breath” training!

  • Lie on your back with both knees bent and your feet flat on the floor
  • Place one hand on your chest and one hand just above your naval. At this point don’t overly concern yourself with how you are breathing.
  • Bring your attention to the movement of your belly hand. Gently guide your hand outward, just enough to feel movement.  There is no need to make any changes to your breathing at this point.  This stage is primarily to encourage abdominal movement.
  • Now draw in your abdomen and feel your belly hand move gently inward.
  • Perform this simple exercise for 3 -5 minutes a few times a day to help activate a “stiff” diaphragm.

Learning a few of the fundamentals of breathwork and why they matter can be a game changer if you don’t naturally breath correctly and in 2022, without some training, none of us breath correctly.

Please let me know any thoughts or comments you have on this and share the post with your team or anyone who might find it useful.

Have a good one, Alex

Murph Count 2022: 49