Before anyone starts criticising your breathing and setting you weird breathing exercises, make sure they have at the least taken a peak flow reading. This is where you puff down a tube and compare the reading with your height, so you can monitor your lung function. There are too many trainers hanging around who attended an online course and are now taping peoples mouths up while exercising with very little assessment of the science behind it.
Make sure they do some basic assessments first. The peak flow meter is one of those basic tests! You may need breathing drills.
There is a lot to be learned about how you, and the people around you breath. As a trainer and 1st aider, I try and observe carefully how people breath.
A normal breathing pattern consists of between 12-16 (some argue 12-20) breaths a minute aka your respiratory rate. From a first aid and general fitness perspective breathing patterns out of this range should be investigated.
Respiratory rate has been described as the neglected vital sign, for instance a respiratory rate higher than 27 breaths/minute is one of the most important predictors of cardiac arrest in hospital wards
Changes in respiratory rate seem to be much greater than changes in heart rate or systolic blood pressure meaning that respiratory rate is likely to be a better means of discriminating between stable patients and patients at risk.
21% of ward patients with a respiratory rate of 25–29 breaths/minute assessed by a critical care outreach service, died in hospital. However, its not just the rate of breathing that indicates your current state. How you breath can be critical.
So, can you describe how you are breathing?
Here are some useful descriptive words that will help you categorise and explain to others what you see.
breathless: breathing very fast and hard, for example after exercising
winded unable to breathe because you have been running or have been hit in the stomach.
Obviously you need to put these observations in context. If someone has just sprinted 400m, they will be breathing heavily and be out of breath. But you can see why. If someone has been sitting down for the last hour and they have a breathing rate of 27, you really ought to be getting some help. Apart from breath counting, it’ as well to notice how people are holding themselves, or their posture.
People with breathing issues often adopt a tripod position which is a “Physical stance often assumed by people experiencing respiratory distress or who are simply out of breath. In this position, a person sits or stands leaning forward and supports the upper body with hands on knees or other surface”(source)
Here are some useful methods to improve your breathing.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, pursed lip breathing has a range of benefits:
Releases trapped air in the lungs
Keeps the airways open longer and decreases the work of breathing
Prolongs exhalation to slow the breathing rate
Improves breathing patterns by moving old air out of the lungs and allowing for new air to enter the lungs
Relieves shortness of breath
Causes general relaxation
Practicing this technique 4 to 5 times each day can help.
Keep your mouth closed, and take a deep breath through your nose hold for 2 seconds
Put your lips together and blow through them. (some say like a whistle, but don’t whistle. It’s annoying.) This is known as “pursing” your lips.
While continuing to keep your lips pursed, slowly breathe out by counting to 4. Don’t try to force the air out, but instead breathe out slowly through your mouth.
2) CO-ORDINATED BREATHING
Co-ordinated breathing uses 2 steps and combines them with an exercise (say a push up)
Inhale through your nose before beginning an exercise.
While pursing your lips, breathe out through your mouth during the most strenuous part of an exercise.
3) DEEP BREATHING
Deep breathing flushes your lungs and makes sure you have expelled all that dank horrible air that been skulking in the outer reaches of chest. You can now breathe in more fresh air, accept if you are in London, where its packed full of pollution.
Here’s how to practice deep breathing:
Sit or stand with your elbows slightly back. This allows your chest to expand more fully, but you are still breathing through your Diaphragm.
Inhale deeply through your nose.
Hold your breath as you count to 5.
Release the air via a slow, deep exhale, through your nose, until you feel your inhaled air has been released.
4)THE DIAPHRAGMATIC BREATHING
The diaphragm is an important muscle involved in the work of breathing. People with breathing “issues” tend to rely more on the accessory muscles of the neck, shoulders, and back to breathe, rather than on the diaphragm. Diaphragmatic or abdominal breathing helps to retrain this muscle to work more effectively. Here’s how to do it:
While sitting or lying down with your shoulders relaxed, put a hand on your chest and place the other hand on your tummy
Breath in through your nose for 2 seconds, feeling your tummy move upwards. You’re doing the activity correctly if your stomach moves more than your chest.
Purse your lips and breathe out slowly through your mouth, pressing lightly on your stomach. This will enhance your diaphragm’s ability to release air.
” increases the efficiency of oxygen transportation through the blood. After hemoglobin binds to oxygen in the lungs due to the high oxygen concentrations, the Bohr effect facilitates its release in the tissues, particularly those tissues in most need of oxygen. When a tissue’s metabolic rate increases, so does its carbon dioxide waste production. When released into the bloodstream, carbon dioxide forms bicarbonate and protons through the following reaction:
Although this reaction usually proceeds very slowly, the enzyme carbonic anhydrase (which is present in red blood cells) drastically speeds up the conversion to bicarbonate and protons. This causes the pH of the blood to decrease, which promotes the dissociation of oxygen from haemoglobin, and allows the surrounding tissues to obtain enough oxygen to meet their demands. In areas where oxygen concentration is high, such as the lungs, binding of oxygen causes haemoglobin to release protons, which recombine with bicarbonate to eliminate carbon dioxide during exhalation. These opposing protonation and deprotonation reactions occur at an equal rate, resulting in little overall change in blood pH.
The Bohr effect enables the body to adapt to changing conditions and makes it possible to supply extra oxygen to tissues that need it the most. For example, when muscles are undergoing strenuous activity, they require large amounts of oxygen to conduct cellular respiration, which generates CO2 (and therefore HCO3− and H+) as byproducts. These waste products lower the pH of the blood, which increases oxygen delivery to the active muscles. Carbon dioxide is not the only molecule that can trigger the Bohr effect. If muscle cells aren’t receiving enough oxygen for cellular respiration, they resort to lactic acid fermentation, which releases lactic acid as a byproduct. This increases the acidity of the blood far more than CO2 alone, which reflects the cells’ even greater need for oxygen. In fact, under anaerobic conditions, muscles generate lactic acid so quickly that pH of the blood passing through the muscles will drop to around 7.2, which causes haemoglobin to begin releasing roughly 10% more oxygen.
The net result of this is an increasing interest in the management and training of Co2 tolerance. as according to Conscious breathing.com CO2 has many important functions
Antibacterial. A study at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden showed that the growth of staphylococci was 1,000 times higher when the bacteria were exposed to normal air for 24 hours, compared with exposure to air saturated with 100 percent CO2.
Increased oxygenation. Carbon dioxide forces the oxygen to leave the blood so it can enter into our muscles and organs and be of use. This is called the Bohr effect, ( you see, it was worth reading that paragraph)
Widens smooth muscles. CO2 has a widening and relaxing effect on our smooth muscles. These muscles are found in our blood vessels, stomach, intestines, bladder, and womb can’t be controlled by our will.
Naturally the alternative health market claims loads of extra things: increased CO2 tolerance cleans the skin, cures cancer, boosts digestion, cures/prevents dementia, builds your bones, blah, blah, so this accounts for the focus on breathing in witchcraft , various religions and yoga,
However, wild claims aside, Who knew. the hippies were right.
So to start you off, here is an interesting totally safe way to start, its called 4 count breathing. Simply inhale to a count of four, hold for a count of four, exhale for a count of four, and hold with empty lungs for a count of four. and build up the time you do this. Free diving had introduced many more periodisation types of breathing exercises but you need to be cautious when doing them especially if you are competitive and inclined to try and hold you breath for 3 minutes out of the blue, ” cause i heard that was a good figure”
Obviously, I’ll guide you through effective breathing and help you build up your C02 tolerance