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Relationship between Breathing and Performance

In my last blog, I discussed the importance of breathing.
This time, as a continuation of that discussion, let's delve deeper into how breathing affects performance specifically.

At first glance, the connection between "breathing" and "performance" may not seem obvious, and this idea may seem a bit fishy. However, the truth is that breathing has a great deal of influence on our performance.

1. Control of the autonomic nervous system

In the last blog, we discussed how breathing affects the autonomic nervous system.
If you are unable to exhale, your diaphragm remains tense and stiff, and the sympathetic nervous system is activated.
This causes both mental and physical tension and makes it difficult to relax.
This is often a problem when performing in sports or in work presentations.
For example, in CrossFit, this tension can interfere with performance when trying a 1RM (single maximal lift) squat or clean for the first time, or when advanced techniques such as muscle-ups are required.
Similar situations can be found in other sports such as golf, baseball, tennis, and soccer.
When we regulate our breathing and become aware of exhaling in these situations of increased tension, we can relax, which leads to mental stability and improved concentration.

2. Improved range of motion

When breathing is disturbed, the ribs tend to become fixed in an open position, requiring the use of shoulder and back muscles to breathe. As a result, these muscles become tense and the range of motion, such as forward and backward bending and rotation, is limited.

When breathing is regulated, the ribs can move freely and the shoulder and back muscles can relax, allowing the body to regain its range of motion. This allows for easier shoulder presses, cleans, snatches, and squats, as well as more powerful golf and baseball swings.

3. Trunk stability

The diaphragm works in cooperation with the muscles surrounding the abdomen to increase trunk stability.
When breathing is disturbed, the diaphragm does not function properly, and the hips tend to arch back and the chest tends to stay in an extended posture. In this state, the muscles around the abdomen that support the trunk weaken, the trunk loses stability, and the limbs become unstable.

When breathing is regulated and the diaphragm and surrounding muscles work in tandem, trunk stability can be improved.

Why is the trunk so important?

Firstly, the trunk is literally the "trunk" of our body. If this part of the body is not stable, the movements of the limbs, which are the "branches" of the body, will be unstable, and stability during whole body movement will be lost.
Therefore, stability of the trunk is essential to stabilize the entire body's movement.

The trunk also serves as a "pathway" for energy transmission.
One of the key goals of CrossFit training is to improve "coordination", efficiently transferring the force generated by the large muscles of the lower body to objects via the trunk, which enhances our ability to move heavy objects. The trunk is the pathway for energy when transferring lower body forces to objects in various movements.
If the trunk is not stable, energy may escape and force may not be transmitted efficiently.
However, if the trunk is stable, force can be transmitted efficiently without energy loss.

In this blog, I have tried to explain the relationship between breathing and performance.
Proper breathing allows for autonomic control, greater range of motion of the body, and improved trunk stability.
All of these work together to improve performance.

When people have breathing problems, many are unable to exhale.
It is important to create a condition in which the body can exhale on a regular basis, and to exhale well in important situations to remove excess tension from the body and mind, and to create a state in which performance can be achieved.

The following video shows Shohei Ohtani before his final pitch in the WBC final, which all of Japan went wild for.

He is shown putting his hand to his mouth and exhaling powerfully.
I am not sure if he is doing this consciously, but he may understand the importance of having breathing on his side for superior performance.

Stay tuned for the next installment!




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