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How Focusing On Your Breathing Can Improve Your Fitness

Breathing is a unique process in the human body. It can occur voluntarily or involuntarily, be a conscious or unconscious decision, and is constantly responding to feedback from sensors in your body. Oftentimes are breathe is being stifled by our emotional state, body position, or

Posture and breath

When you inhale your diaphragm contracts and moves downward expanding the chest cavity and giving the lungs space to expand. This simultaneously lifts the ribs and sternum. When you exhale the diaphragm relaxes and expands into the chest cavity as the ribs and sternum lower.

The key muscles or primary movers in this process are the diaphragm, intercostal muscles, and abdominal muscles. Secondary mover muscles include upper trapezius, scalenes, sternocleidomastoid, levator scapulae, and pectoralis minor.

Poor posture categorized by rounded shoulders and a forward head position can cause these secondary movers to become tight and overworked. This leads to a decline in respiratory function which can further exacerbate the breathing muscles and contribute to even worse posture.

To jump start your muscles involved in breathing try out this stretching and breath practice from Jill Miller at Yoga Tune Up: The Abdominal Vacuum

So you might be wondering why you should worry about your breath when it’s so easy you can literally do it in your sleep?

Let’s start with the the one we all care about:

  1. Improved performance

A study at the University of Portsmouth showed that runners who performed inspiratory muscle warm-ups and training experienced a whopping 15% increase in performance after just 6 weeks.

2. Energy

Bringing a mindful focus to breath can also help improve energy. Individuals who practice deep breathing exercises report more energy, improved mental acuity, and getting a better night’s sleep.

  1. Digestion

An improvement in breath capacity will lead to a healthier digestive tract. The body has more energy to allocate towards digestion and is more efficient at eliminating toxins.

  1. Decrease Stress

Breathing techniques that are designed to bring increased awareness the breath can carry over to other areas of life. It trains the mind to be less emotionally reactive while simultaneously reducing cortisol levels.

  1. Heart Rate

Breathing practice has been shown to lower resting heart rate and blood pressure. Try deep belly breaths where the stomach fully expands and holding in at the full exhalation and inhalation points.

Many breathing techniques are geared towards unwinding, shutting down, and moving away from the flight or fight response we are used to feeling. Breath work also has many powerful applications to get us fired up and improve our performance.

When lifting heavy weights, a full belly breath can be held inside the abdomen throughout the lift. This Valsalva Maneuver provides internal pressure that supports the spine and braces the skeletal muscle throughout the lift. Limit this maneuver for maximal exertion efforts (eg. greater than 80% of your 1rm and 5 reps or less in your working set).

Breathing can also be used to prime your body into a peak state. Using rapid forced inhales and exhales through the nostrils will stimulate the immune system, increase circulation, and leave you feeling alive, alert, and awake.

Now that you know a little about how breathing affects your daily life and the systems of your body what areas do you want to incorporate a breathing practice into? Whether its for our health, relaxation purposes, or to improve our athletic performance we could all benefit from taking a deep breath now and then!

If you’re interested in CrossFit, sign up today for a free, no-sweat intro!

Why You Should Invest in CrossFit Shoes

If you’ve come this far, you’re probably read to commit to CrossFit, if you haven’t already. We’ve shared a lot of content over the past few months, and we hope you’ve digested it and have come to the conclusion that CrossFit is going to help you get fit.

With that in mind, it’s time to talk about why you should invest in a good pair of shoes designed specifically for CrossFit.

A good CrossFit shoe is going to provide the base for all of your workouts. That makes sense, too, since they go on your feet, which are considered the base of the body. We should note that one shoe won’t be perfect for all CrossFit movements. But if you’re going to invest in a proper shoe to wear to each WOD, here are a few things you should keep in mind.

Support

Weightlifting is a focal point when it comes to CrossFit, so you want to find a shoe that is going to provide stability and protect your feet. These are called “lifters”. They typically have a strap across the top of the foot that works to provide stability and make sure your stance is firm when you get in position to lift the weight.

These shoes are also reinforced at the heel, which provides a stable base for the foot when you get ready to launch into a squat or a hang power clean. The shoe has minimal cushion, which is different than a running shoe, but provides more stability and support.

Versatility

Since CrossFit shoes are built for more than one movement, they need to be versatile to protect your feet during rope climbs, but provide the proper flex to do box jumps during the same WOD.

That’s why a lot of CrossFit shoes are built out of materials like “carbon rubber” and incorporate “midsole technology”.

The Reebok Nano 2.0, for instance, touts its “open-spacer mesh” to improve flexibility and breathability to give athletes the proper feel to tackle the toughest WODs. While you might giggle at the terms the company has come up with to describe their shoes, the reality is that you’re going to see a big difference between CrossFit shoes and regular running shoes when it comes to their versatility.

Durability

You are going to put your shoes through a lot of wear and tear. The aforementioned rope climbs will do their best to scuff up your shoes, while hill runs and sled pulls will test your shoes to the limit. It’s a good idea to have a shoe that is going to last and put up with the stress you put them through.

The Nike Metcon 4 has a breathable mesh to keep your feet cool on the hottest days, but the synthetic textured print provides more durability to protect the foot. The front of the foot also features flexibility and sticky rubber to provide extra “grab” for sled pushes.

Not only are these shoes worthy of being worn in public, but they give you the upper hand at the box, and they will last a long time.

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If you’re serious about CrossFit, it’s time to get serious about the shoe you wear to the WODs. It’s not imperative that you invest money in your footwear, but it will help you in the long run.

If you are interested in CrossFit, scheduled a free, no-sweat intro today!

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