Would you like your young athlete to be stronger, faster, more explosive? Would you like to radically reduce their chances of injury? Would you like to increase their endurance level while reducing anxiety? Then I have just the thing for you. Diaphragmatic breathing.
The diaphragm, a large dome-shaped muscle, is positioned below the lungs at the base of the rib cage and attaches to the spine. It is the most efficient muscle for breathing. When the diaphragm pushes against the lungs it creates pressure in the abdominal cavity helping to stabilize the upper body. In fact, because of diaphragm’s location in the body, it is impossible to engage the “so-called” core without the assistance of the diaphragm.
Thoracic spine stability, the ability to stabilize the upper body, is crucial to movement. An athlete’s ability to support and stabilize the head and torso will greatly determine how strong, fast or explosive they are. Furthermore, poor thoracic stability significantly increases an athlete’s risk for injury. When pressure is created in the abdominal cavity the core can be engaged giving the muscle responsible for movement an anchor to safely produce speed, power, and explosion consistently throughout the movement. Diaphragmatic breathing is fundamental to the long-term growth of your young athlete.
It has been well documented that breathing from the diaphragm is ideal for supplying the brain with the appropriate amount of oxygen. When the brain is optimally oxygenated, anxiety is greatly reduced and hormone production is better regulated; giving the athlete the opportunity for better decision making and emotional control.
One of the biggest factors in endurance is VO2max. VO2max refers to the maximum amount of oxygen an athlete can utilize during intense exercise. This has everything to do with how long the athlete will last and how long it will take to recover when complete. Since the diaphragm is the largest and most effective mover of the lungs athletes can increase their VO2max by becoming more efficient diaphragmatic breathers.
Before you go out and get a trainer or put your young athlete on some workout program you got off the net, try a little diaphragmatic breathing first. You might find that it’s the missing piece in developing a strong foundation in your young athlete.