CATCH YOUR BREATH!!
Improper breathing will wreck your shoulder girdle, induce fatigue while paddling out, and set off a chain of potential negative events. These are all things you don’t want! So train yourself to 1) Breathe properly – diaphragmatically 2) learn how to breathe calmly even when exerting yourself or performing under pressure.
1. Diaphragmatic Breathing
It is thought by many cultures that the process of breathing is the essence of being. Breath is a constant rhythmic process of expansion and contraction, representative of the polarity of life and death, night and day, wake and sleep, growth and decay. Breath is essential for your survival. Every cell in your body is dependant upon your inspiration of oxygen and exhalation of carbon dioxide. IT”S IMPORTANT to say the
least! However, with the stressors of modern life, many of us have physically forgotten the ability to breathe properly, and utilize the diaphragm to inhale. Once this occurs, you become a “chest breather”, which can have far-reaching negative effects upon the bodily systems. As the diaphragm contracts, it creates a negative vaccuum within the lung cavity, which draws air into your lungs, and then the opposite occurs for exhalation. This movement of the diaphragm creates “Belly breathing” as the intestines are pushed outward as the diaphragm expands into the abdominal cavity. If you watch a child, this is how they breathe, and you have very likely along the stressful road of life, lost that ability. Once you stop utilizing the diaphragm, you begin to use a variety of other muscles surrounding your neck and shoulder girdle to inhale. Many of those muscles are not designed for that capacity and demand, and they eventually become spasmatic, tight, and fibrous, all of which are very bad things if you are trying to stay away from shoulder problems and neck tension. So test yourself: lay on your back, lay a hand on your stomach, and the other on your chest. Inhale and take note of which hand rises first? The belly hand, or the chest hand? If it was the chest hand, then you are a “chest breather” and you are utlizing a breathing pattern that can have some potentially negative effects on your body. If that’s the case, practice belly breathing while laying on your back. As you inhale, your stomach should rise first, followed by a slight elevation of your chest towards the end of your inhale. Proper breathing mechanics can have some seriously positive influence on many aspects of your life, and definitely your surfing. So give it some practice… it’s a great way to relax the body before going to bed, or a bit of meditation.
2. Breathing Calmly Under Pressure
So now you’ve got the basic understanding of Diaphragmatic breathing. NOTE** When you are heavily exerted, you will have much more “chest breather” movements which is normal, however when you are at rest, you should be breathing with the belly. So how’s that relate to surfing? You don’t have to be thinking of “I need to belly breathe” when you are 5 minutes into a beast of a paddle out. However, you do need to maintain calm, rhytmic breathing. Rapid shallow breathing will just stress out all the muscles surrounding your shoulder girdle, placing further strain on your neck and shoulders, and adding to overall fatigue and resulting in a lack of oxygen supply to the muscles. So simply focus on slower, deeper, inhales and exhales, and stay focused on smooth paddle strokes.