With all the talk about breathing recently, it seems that the industry is polarized, and I think it may be out of an error in communication. For some reason, people read that training breathing is important and that we all should be having our athletes demonstrate “ownership” of good breathing mechanics, and people immediately assume that the other, higher intensity, training modalities like heavy lifting, jumping, and sprinting are replaced with work on breathing. I don’t think this could be further from the truth.
It does not take long to help restore a breathing pattern in a controlled, volition-driven environment. I believe the same can be said for the functional movement screen and it’s corrections. If you are not improving peoples’ patterns in very short order, you’re not doing the right things or you have an athlete with “tissues available” that need to be addressed first and foremost.
While many will take the above line: “It does not take long to help restore a breathing pattern in a controlled, volition-driven environment,” and say that sure it does, but it doesn’t transfer to sport, I’d argue that, again, they are going about it the wrong way. After an athlete can breath well in a number of positions, we need to be sure we are beginning to incorporate breathing work into functionally integrated environments where the athlete is forced to move or use limb drivers, develop an abdominal “brace,” yet still draw in a good breath. Over time, the demands need to progress further to assist in the functional actualization of breathing mechanics.
Perhaps one of the best ways to ensure that the mechanism is effectively in place is to take an athlete through a series of reasonably demanding exercise, have the athlete assume a posture placing demands on spinal control, and coach good breathing. I find that this is easily accomplished in between sets of striding, bike intervals, or general calisthenic circuits. Ideally, by teaching the athlete to maintain good breathing mechanics under fatigue, the subcortical centers of the brain will recognize this, over time, as the preferred mechanism and will help to ensure effective IAP and stabilization during running, jumping, and sport.