Breathing from your Core-The Missing Link?

It may sound like a strange question but “do you breathe properly?”  Breathing pattern disorders (BPD) are surprisingly common in the general population.  They remain commonly under-recognized by health care professionals and can contribute to pain, fatigue, and dysfunctions in the lumbopelvic region i.e. your CORE!

Core activation remains a hot topic in physical therapy. The problem is that there is not a universally accepted strategy to achieve optimal stability. A decade ago, we started using the “abdominal hallowing” technique which I have talked about before. The abdominal hallowing was an attempt to isolate a key core muscle called the transversus abdominis in which you would “pull your navel in and hallow out your abdoman”. The original work done by Hodges and colleagues on the transversus abdominis also demonstrated simultaneous activation of the diaphragm muscle. The diaphragm, however, took a back seat and has often been ignored during core training. So how do we correct your BPD and “wake up” your diaphragm?

Your diaphragm is attached to your lower ribcage, thoracic wall, and lumbar vertebrae. When you breathe, the diaphragm contracts and pushes DOWN into the abdominal cavity. This movement causes a pressure change which draws air into the lungs. As a result of the contraction, intra-abdominal pressure increases and lumbar spine stiffness, hence stability, also increases.  The diaphragm acts in coordination with the abdominal muscles, spinal muscles, and pelvic floor to create lumbar stability in all directions.  This is what some refer to as “360 degree of stiffness.” The contraction of the diaphragm creates core stability from the inside-out. When you perform an abdominal hallowing or abdominal bracing you create stability from the outside-in. Professor Kolar and colleages performed two MRI studies of the diaphragm and showed that the diaphragm can perform dual functions of inspiration and stabilization simultaneously! The activation of the diaphragm was shown to vary greatly among individuals. This variability may be the reason why one person can resolve low back pain and another cannot.

Lets take a look at HOW you can activate your diaphragm while breathing and HOW you can enhance the benefit of your core stability exercises. Check out the video below.

I DID IT !!!!!!

My inaugural return to a competitive 5K!!  The RUSH has returned!!  After a year of strength training and a progressive increase in running intensity, distance, and frequency I thought I would make my big return this fall.  The Maudslay 5K Turkey Trot was it!! A bright , sunny, cool Thanksgiving morning. A great day for a run through the park.  What I forgot about, were the hills. Oops!!  No worries though, I paced myself, remembered my breathing strategies, and pushed onward, and upward.  As I approached the finish line I realized that my competitive juices had returned in full force.  Albeit, this time, without the sharp knee pain that sidelined my efforts last year.  My time:  24:38 with a 7:57 pace.  I placed 163rd out of almost 1200 runners. WOW!!  What a Surprise!  What a Relief!  I’M BACK!!

Click HERE for the link to race results.





Place Name                Age S City            St Time    Pace

1 LOUIE SAVIANO        20 M                      16:26  5:19

2 John Stansel         18 M Newburyport     MA   16:34  5:21

3 Aidan Kimball        18 M Atkinson        NH   16:42  5:23

4 Colin Ingram         29 M Hampton         NH   17:23  5:37

5 CHRIS KEALEY         44 M NEWBURYPORT     MA   17:38  5:42

6 JOHN AYERS           45 M                      17:48  5:45

7 CAM LOUGHLIN         17 M ROWLEY          MA   18:00  5:49

8 QUINN PARKER         18 M HAMPTON         NH   18:03  5:50

9 BRYCE PARKER         16 M HAMPTON         NH   18:06  5:51

10 Corey Masson         35 M Newmarket       NH   18:27  5:57

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

160 bridget ryan evange  20 F newburyport     MA   24:33  7:55

161 sara oliveri         47 F lynnfield       MA   24:36  7:57

162 Gwen Ellis           12 F Boxford         MA   24:37  7:57

163 Christopher Dukarski 44 M West Newbury    MA   24:38  7:57

I felt so good after the 5K that I thought I would challenge my dogs to a race.

This past year has been filled with ups and downs regarding my “orthopedic status”.  This getting older thing is the pits!  I certainly took my time and respected what my body was telling me during the course of my training this past year.  Sure, I could have returned to a competitive 5K sooner, but WHY?  What was I trying to prove?  I cannot emphasize enough to my runners the importance of 2 things.  Number 1:  Listen to your body.  It is wise in the ways that you have abused it over the years. Number 2:  Train to run, dont just run to train.  It has been proven that strength training can enhance running and athletic performance.  Here are several references to convince you of the evidence.

-A University of Alabama meta-analysis of the endurance training scientific literature revealed that 10 weeks of resistance training in trained distance runners improves running economy by 8-10%.  For the mathematicians in the crowd, that’s about 20-24 minutes off a four-hour marathon – and likely more if you’re not a well-trained endurance athlete in the first place.

-French researchers found that the addition of two weight-training sessions per week for 14 weeks significantly increased maximal strength and running economy while maintaining peak power in triathletes.  Meanwhile, the control group – which only did endurance training – gained no maximal strength or running economy, and their peak power actually decreased (who do you think would win that all-out sprint at the finish line?).  And, interestingly, the combined endurance with resistance training group saw greater increases in VO2max over the course of the intervention.

-Scientists at the Research Institute for Olympic Sports at the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland found that replacing 32% of regular endurance training volume with explosive resistance training for nine weeks improved 5km times, running economy, VO2max, maximal 20m speed, and performance on a 5-jump test.  With the exception of VO2max, none of these measures improved in the control group that just did endurance training.  How do you think they felt knowing that a good 1/3 of their entire training volume was largely unnecessary, and would have been better spent on other initiatives?

-University of Illinois researchers found that addition of three resistance training sessions for ten weeks improved short-term endurance performance by 11% and 13% during cycling and running, respectively.  Additionally, the researchers noted that “long-term cycling to exhaustion at 80% VO2max increased from 71 to 85 min after the addition of strength training”