The Myth of Deep Breathing

I trained in tae kwon do for a couple of years.  It was a lot of fun and I’ve never been in quite as good shape.  But there was one thing about the class that repeatedly irked me.  It was an extremely minor thing, actually.  I should have ignored it.  But it irked me anyway.

We’d be doing some profoundly punishing cardio-taxing exercise.  And as we all were left panting and gasping for air, our instructor, to help us recover oxygen balance quicker, would say – “Now breathe deeply!”

Now why would that innocuous remark drive me nuts?

Are There Deep Breathing Benefits?

People assume that deep breathing is more efficient, or will take in oxygen more quickly, or that it’s somehow just…better.

Except that it isn’t.

The body is really brilliant at optimizing itself.  When you’re out of breath, your body (in most cases) will automatically adopt the optimal rate and rhythm of breathing to rush oxygen back to your brain (and other body tissues).

Those quick panting breaths that you use when you’ve just finished a spinning class?  They actually take in oxygen and shed carbon dioxide more efficiently than deeper breaths.

Deep breathing does fill the lungs more per breath, but each breath takes longer, and wastes energy expanding your rib cage to the max.

Summary.  During and after exertion, don’t try to artificially impose a “proper” breathing rate on your body.  Allow your body to automatically set its rate and rhythm.  It’s smarter than you are.

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT

A vulture boards an airplane, carrying two dead raccoons. The
flight attendant looks at him and says, ‘I’m sorry, sir, only one carrion
allowed per passenger.’

 

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About Ronald Lavine, D.C.

Dr. Lavine has more than thirty years' experience helping patients alleviate pain and restore health using diverse, scientifically-based manual therapy and therapeutic exercise and alignment methods. His website, askdrlavine.com, provides more information about his approach. Please contact him at drlavine@yourbodyofknowledge.com or at 212-400-9663.
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One Response to The Myth of Deep Breathing

  1. Brian says:

    I agree.

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