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Diaphragmatic Breathing Exercises Techniques for Improved Swimming Performance

Breathing Exercises Lead to Better Swimming


Updated June 11, 2014
What is the most effective breathing exercise technique for swimmers? Coach Shev Gul takes a look at diaphragmatic breathing exercises for swimmers and how to achieve it while swimming. Using these breathing exercises in swim practice could help a swimmer perform better in training and racing and help improve recovery from training and swim meet competitions.

Why do some members of the coaching and the medical community take breathing for granted? Here we will review the differences between ineffective, shallow chest breathing and natural, diaphragmatic breathing, and how we have lost this nature-given breathing ability. To achieve it, we must work on re-learning and re-educating ourselves, our coaches, and our athletes on how to breathe properly, correctly, and more efficiently. This can be accomplished through a natural diaphragmatic breathing or deep breathing exercise techniques which enables athletes to perform better training, have better races, and helps improve recovery during training and races.

Diaphragmatic Breathing Technique Exercises - DBT

In sport performance, there is a strong link between the following four areas of human mind-body system:

  • Effective Breathing-Technique
  • Physiology
  • Internal State
  • High Performance

Proper or correct breathing technique is central to the ancient practices of Yoga, QiGong, Ayurveda and other meditation disciplines. Diaphragmatic deep breathing awareness and practice is an important part of training for martial artists, musicians, vocalists, public speakers, dancers, and athletes!

All our bodily actions - talking, singing, playing wind instruments - and the outward application of force or power with our arms or legs, like hitting, kicking, pulling, stretching, pushing, lifting, and throwing should be done during the exhalation phase of our breathing process (a martial arts fundamental for maximum work-power creation and application).

In swimming, no matter what stroke, the main work phase should be done during the exhalation phase of our breathing process. This must be executed properly, correctly, and fully during each stroke cycle to maximize the the effectiveness of that stroke cycle. Breathing (both exhaling and inhaling) correctly is critical in maintaining the appropriate level of oxygen for energy, keeping the correct pH levels in our body, and maintaining the correct carbon dioxide level for bodily functions.

Why Coaches Continue to Take Breathing for Granted

Because we take breathing for granted, the information on the benefits of a diaphragmatic breathing technique (DBT) are not widespread in today`s medical community. Illness and pathology, not wellness (better mind-body performance of an individual or a sport person) are not the priority of many health-care practitioners. In addition, things that are free (like breathing) can`t be patented, so they do not attract funding for research, so little information on these subjects finds its way into popular medical and sport science research journals. That`s why it has escaped the sport research scientific community`s close attention. Many coaches pay little or no attention to this free bodily function-subject too, as I have personally discovered during my consultations with numerous top Olympic coaches at various sport conventions.

Shallow Chest Breathing

Unfortunately, we continue living our lives and raising our athletes on a poor diet of shallow chest breathing habits. The good news is that the poor and ineffective breathing habits can be reversed.

Among infants, correct breathing comes naturally. Observe a baby as it breathes to see its belly rise and fall with each breath. As we grow older we are taught to suck in that gut and puff out that chest as we try to look slimmer! Such resistance to the natural breathing posture restricts oxygen intake, which can lead to numerous physical as well as emotional problems.

Shallow chest breathing invites problems by delivering less air per breath into the lungs. Less air per breath leads to higher number of breaths, putting in motion a series of physiological changes that constrict blood vessels. An imbalance between the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the lungs delivers less oxygen to the brain, the heart and the rest of the body.

Shallow chest breathing promotes early fatigue in athletes, effects their rhythm and their timing, and as their stroke technique falls apart, inevitably their speed. Learning the natural Diaphragmatic Breathing Technique is the answer.

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