Everything starts with a basis. The stronger and stronger this base, the better you can build. If the foundation of a house is not made firm, cracks will arise in the walls over time and the house may eventually collapse. That’s how it works too!

A good technique for strength training will help you to perform the exercises well and reduce the risk of injuries. Only then can you increase your weights in a solid way. With running you slowly build up so that not only your muscles but also your tendons can get used to a long-term load. The real basis, however, lies with the basis of life itself; the respiration.

Like a baby

Breathing is automatic. From the moment you are born you also know how to breathe, so you do not have to learn it. Our breathing is regulated in the brainstem. This part of the brain controls the most vital functions of life such as heart rate, temperature, blood pressure and therefore breathing. From the evolution perspective, this part of the brain is also the oldest part. When a baby is born, he will start crying first to make the little lungs work. That too is (usually) natural, which nature has arranged nicely itself. Anyone who has ever listened to a sleeping baby also knows how relaxing that sound is and how quiet the breathing is. It should be like that! Yet many of you will recognize that you do not breathe much more often in this quiet way.

Too long, too fast

Over the years you can learn a wrong breathing. When you breathe for a long time for some reason, it can have all kinds of physical, but also psychological consequences! Just think of stress-related complaints and even panic attacks. During a physical exercise, it is very functional that breathing accelerates. The body needs more oxygen to keep the muscles working harder, among other things.

If you put the body in a stress mode for a long time, it may be that you are going to learn a wrong breathing. You see this, for example, a lot of people who have been burned out. These people have put their bodies under stress for far too long and have therefore gone beyond their limits too often. They also find it very difficult to be able to relax and breathe in a good way. In my treatments, I often use Running Therapy sessions to show what happens physically after an effort.

During an exercise, it is normal for your heart rate and breathing to accelerate. Then it is nice when you can take a breath again so that the body can recover. This is certainly important after a training! What you would not think about quickly is to do a relaxation exercise for a workout. A big advantage of this is that you start a training more calmly, you cross your borders less quickly and you can do the exercises with attention. This also reduces the risk of injuries.

Abdominal breathing

What is good breathing then? Psychiatrist Bram Bakker and Koen de Jong describe in their book ‘Verademing’ how you can test if you have too fast breathing. When you sit quietly on a chair, you count how many breaths you have per minute, with one full breath from the beginning of the inhalation to the end of the exhale. Many people will count more than 15 breaths. This is too much! It is healthy if you sit between 4 and 8 times per minute. When you find yourself (well) above this number, it is certainly useful to do daily breathing exercises.

There are different variations on breathing exercises where it is important to breathe to the belly and to make sure that you are out of breathing for longer than you are breathing. It helps me if I hold my one hand on my stomach and my other hand on my chest so that I can feel good where I’m breathing.

We women often have learned that we should have a flat stomach. Because of this, we are often inclined to withhold this. It is precisely in these breathing exercises that it is important to keep the stomach relaxed. You can also see that your abdomen tightens during tension so that you can breathe less relaxed and then the circle is round again. So: Keep your stomach relaxed, breathe into your stomach and exhale longer.

Relaxation and effort

Try the next time you train to do a breathing exercise in advance. After the training, you do that again. You can do this for example when stretching / stretching. You will notice that you feel more relaxed after exercise and that you will recover better! Good luck!

I can recommend everyone to read the book ‘Breathing out’. It clearly describes why good breathing is important and there are focused breathing exercises that you can easily apply yourself. You will also be told how best to use your breathing in sports to improve your performance.

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