Exploring how to use the different phases of our breath as we move through our day, as well as, during fitness activities is an important stepping stone towards postpartum recovery. This is also important for returning to more complex and/or high impact movements, and running.
So, when to use an inhale vs exhale?
- An inhale is recommended more often with the less challenging phase of a movement. This is due to the lengthening moment that is happening amongst the core team and pelvic floor muscles.
- An exhale is recommended more often with the more challenging phase of a movement. Think EXhale & EXertion. This is due to the cocontraction that’s generated through the core team when we breathe out, and how that cues the pelvic floor to lift and contract reflexively.
- BUT remember: the most efficient core system is one that continuously flows through BOTH inhale and exhale phases.
Now, how to use this intel:
- When someone’s first relearning, I start with the cues I listed above as a starting point. I teach my patients to notice what it feels like in their body to move while they breathe, and how the inhale vs exhale feels in their body as they squat, lunge, pick up their baby, etc. This is a very conscious process at first.
- Over time, my clients get curious about what it feels like to lessen the conscious breathing control, and lean into letting their body respond to a task. What does their body choose naturally? How does that feel? If it doesn’t feel good, what happens if they change their breathing? We keep exploring like this so that they can learn to troubleshoot on their own and help their body become more proficient with responding automatically.
- The automatic response is what we need long term for movement to be efficient and enjoyable! No one wants to micromanage their breathing for everything. That’s no fun, nor is it the way our bodies were designed to move.
In summary, play with your breath! Explore what it feels like in your body. What do you notice?