Do THIS for more effective stretching

It’s something you do anyway, so there is no new technique to master and no gadget to buy at the local sports store. It is right there in front of your face, but you don’t do it.

It’s breathing.

For those of you following a goalie specific mobility program like the Butterfly Challenge 2.0, some of the movements are quite challenging and without even realizing you do it, you hold your breath.

So what does it matter?

Let me answer that question with a question.

QUESTION: When you are trying to increase your mobility are you going to get better results if you are calm and relaxed or if you are tense and stressed?

ANSWER: Calm and relaxed.

So, when you hold your breath you are sending signals to your body that you are under stress, you are also tensing accessory muscles without even realizing it. It is a bit of a reflex response, so don’t worry if you do it.

Breathing is actually the only element of the autonomic nervous system (the system that governs our flight or fight response) that we can consciously control. That makes it all the more important for you as a goalie.

Improves your mobility but also your performance on the ice

Your opponent scored a goal with 4-minutes left in the third to tie the must-win game. Now your sympathetic nervous system is lighting things up with ‘fight, fight, fight’ signals, which might not be the best for you in this situation.

Some adrenalin is great, but your heart pounding out of your chest, your thoughts racing and your hands shaking at this stage is not what you are looking for.

So, a few deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth can be just what your body needs to help reset. A signal to your brain that you need to be sharp, but you are not in a life-threatening situation – a lion did not just leap out of the bushes on the savannah with you lined up as dinner.

Another way it improves your mobility…

In large part because we sit with crappy posture a lot of the time, our rib cage gets quite stiff. This has an impact on not only how you breathe, but also how you move and not just how you move your torso, but also how you move your hips.

Remember that muscles work in chains that travel all over the body, from your head to your toes (literally), so a restriction in one area will lead to decreased performance in that entire chain.

When you practice your breathing when you stretch you will help your rib cage expand (or remind it that it can expand) and help get things moving.

The Benefits Of Breathing…

• You have to breathe to stay alive
• Relaxes your muscles so you can get more benefit from your stretching
• Calms your central nervous system so you can better control your emotions
• Improves your rib cage mobility, which in turn improves mobility all along the chain

So as you stretch, think of breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Finish off each stretching session with this Open Chest Breathing drill.

Do 6 breaths breathing in through your nose for a count of four and out through your mouth for a count of 6. Breathe in as much air as you can and exhale as much as you can, but don’t make them forced inspirations or expirations, just calmly breathe in and out. Take note of your rib cage and abdomen expanding and contracting as you go.

Just in case you can’t see the awesome video above… click here >


PS – you are going to be hearing a lot more about breathing because I am just finishing a course on Breathing Assessment, so it is sort of on my mind lately.  #AlwaysLearning