5 Steps to Optimizing Joint Health & Function in the Gym: Diaphragm Breathing

5 Steps to Optimizing Joint Health & Function in the Gym: Diaphragm Breathing

This is the final installment in our 5 Steps to Optimizing Joint Health and Function in the Gym series.

The goal here is to become mindful of your breath, trying to breathe as calm and quiet as possible.

After you’ve taken care of your physical body post-workout, it’s important to shift your nervous system down from Sympathetic (SNS) to Parasympathetic (PNS). The SNS is the fight or flight portion of your Autonomic Nervous System (ANS); it allows for the release of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline into the blood stream to constrict blood vessels, therefore increasing heart rate and blood pressure. Although we want this during a workout, it’s imperative we make sure we lower our heart rate as soon as we finish so we don’t leave the gym with our heart rate elevated. This overdrive leads many people to a weak immune system, decreased appetite, trouble sleeping, fluctuating weight, and—in extreme cases—adrenal fatigue.

Switching from our SNS to our PNS allows the recovery process begin. One of the best ways to switch into our PNS is by utilizing diaphragm breathing. Very similar to the technique used during post-workout decompression, the goal here is to become mindful of your breath, trying to breathe as calm and quiet as possible. Focus on quiet, gentle breaths, only through your nose, and try to fill your belly up with your breath before your chest rises.

Laying on your back, repeat this sequence 8–10 times:

  1. Inhale: 3 seconds
  2. Hold breath: 2 seconds
  3. Exhale: 4–6 seconds
  4. Hold breath: 2 seconds

Diaphragm Breathing is the final part of the five-part series 5 Steps to Optimizing Joint Health & Function in the Gym

Part one: Spine Warm-up
Part two: Movement Preparation
Part three: Intraset Active Recovery
Part four: Post-Workout Decompression


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