In our last post we recommended breathing as step one in the postpartum journey back to a regular fitness routine. Seems pretty straight forward, we all know how to breathe, right? Yes and no.
Take a moment and check in with your breath. If you're sitting down, take a minute to become aware of your breathing patterns
. What do you notice, do you feel your shoulders rise? Do you feel your chest rise? Do you feel your belly bulge? Do you feel pressure anywhere, maybe in your stomach or pelvis? Are your breaths long in and short out, short in and long out? Are your breaths shallow? Are your breaths deep? Just take notice. What do you feel?
When you get up from your chair, what does your breath do? When you pick up your child, what are you doing with your breath? When you pick things up off the floor, what do you do with your breath? Are you holding your breath? Are you breathing long sighs? Are your inhales as long as your exhales when you are doing an activity?
Now that you're aware of your breath, let's talk about how to breath for recovery. There are many different ways to breath, take a look at yoga and pilates, they are full of different breath patterns, and each has a specific intention and purpose. We are just going to talk about basic breath work and how to improve pressure regulation in the abdominal cavity (how you move and keep air in the stomach).
If you are breathing well, you should have equal rise/fall of the stomach, chest, and expansion of the ribcage, 1/3 of the breath at each area (1/3 at the chest, 1/3 at the ribcage, 1/3 at the stomach).
Place your hands over your chest, right below your shoulders. Now breath, do you feel your hands rise and fall? Now place your hands at your ribcage, take a couple deep breaths. Do you feel your ribs open up into your hands? Now place your hands on your stomach and take a couple breaths. Do you feel your stomach rise and fall? If you are breathing deeply and evenly, you should feel similar movement through each area of your body (chest, ribcage, stomach). If you are not feeling one area or one side of your body moving as well, then practice and think about breathing into that area that you feel is not moving as well. If you are still having trouble connecting with your breath, then seek out professional assistance with breath work. Proper breathing is the key to pressure management which is crucial in the return to exercises and fitness postpartum. Without proper pressure regulation to help mend the weakened muscles as a result of pregnancy, you put yourself at risk for diastasis recti, pelvic floor dysfunction, and possible hernias.
Let's get breathing well, ladies!