One form of recovery I bet you haven’t read about before!
Most people are aware of the importance of recovery and how making small changes to nutrition, sleep and stress can drastically improve your health, body composition and mental health. One of our favourites is breath work.
Yes, you heard right, breathing!
It’s funny that something we do without consciously thinking about can drastically alter how well you recover from previous training sessions & also alter your mindset and mental health.
Let’s have a look at the science behind it all.
The autonomic nervous system regulates the fight or flight response. When the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) is activated, your heart rate increases, muscle tense up, pupils dilate and breathing becomes faster and shorter.
This physiological reaction is pretty dam cool and without it, we all would have been eaten by lions and predators a long time ago! As soon as your unconscious mind perceives a threat the body begins to ready the machine for war. This mechanism is insanely valuable when you come across another a human trying to mug you and steal your shoes, however if this mechanism is constantly active you’ll be stressed, tight and anxious.
This response is the direct opposite of relaxed and the problem is that this mechanism can be activated by anything you perceive as a threat.
That’s right anything you perceive as a threat is going to instantly flood your system with stress hormones such as cortisol. It can be as simple as a comment on social media that causes anger or makes you feel uncomfortable. This change causes your respiration to change and you'll begin to breath from your chest. This halts your ability to recover, sleep and burn fat!
Now you know this it’s your responsibility to change it!
The sympathetic nervous system is balanced by the para sympathetic nervous system. The para sympathetic nervous system is responsible for digestion and rest and be activated as easily as the sympathetic nervous system.
Breath is the magic button!
Next time you become stressed stop and have a think about where you’re breathing from. Is it your chest or your belly? I bet it’s your chest!
To reset your breathing try this it will help to relieve stress, anxiety and alter your hormones to optimise recovery.
1. Sit or lay down on your back in a comfortable position
2. Place one hand on your chest and one over your belly
3. Breathe in for 5 seconds through the nose feeling your stomach rise and ribs expand outwards.
4. Hold your breathe for 5 seconds at the top.
5. Breathe out for 5 seconds.
5. Hold for 5 seconds at the bottom
Box breathing is a great way to reset your breathing mechanics and downregulate your sympathetic nervous system. Give it a try next time you're stressed, finished a workout or just need a bit of you time.