You breathe upside-down. Here’s how to fix it.

By: Bo Babenko, DPT

Do you breathe upside-down? 

Here’s A Quick Test:

  1. Take a deep breath.
  2. Place one hand on your belly and one on your chest.
  3. Take another deep breath.

What did you feel move more, your chest or your belly?

It should’ve been your belly. If your chest moved more than your belly you’re not breathing optimally (don’t worry – a lot of people aren’t). This is called apical breathing and it means you’re using accessory muscles, like those in your neck, to drive your breathing instead of your diaphragm.

OK, so your chest was moving more than your belly…

How To Fix It

Give crocodile breathing a try!

  1. Lay face down with your hands under your forehead. Placing a light object (5-10lbs), like a phone book or kettlebell, on your lower back can help you focus where you will be directing your breath.
  2. As you breathe, direct your breath into your lower abdomen such that you feel your stomach lightly expanding into the floor. If you’ve placed a light book object on your lower back, direct your breath to the weight you feel and expand into it.
  3. Now, while still directing your breath into your abdomen and low back, start directing the breath out to the sides of the lower torso (i.e. the obliques) as well.

This is called crocodile breathing because this is how crocodiles breathe, with a 360 degree circumferential expansion of their abdomens.

Crocodile breathing is one of the best drills to create proper breathing mechanics. It also works wonders to reduce neck pain and stress. Start with 10 or so breaths and increase it to 3 minutes — before a workout, before bedtime, and even before or between stressful work calls!

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