Here is an excerpt from my forthcoming book (working title) Better Breathing In Freestyle.
I appreciate those of you cheering me on to get this out there. I’ve made a second draft on the first 75% and now working on the first draft of the last 25% which is the section I have been most excited to present, because it takes the discussion of breathing in swimming into territory I have not seen it taken elsewhere, and I feel so many people will benefit from it if we do.
Posture And Breathing
I mentioned earlier in this book how your posture on land affects your ability to maintain good posture in the water. Poor posture also affects how well the body can breathe in general.
Dr. Belisa Vranich has something to add to this. “Consider this: poor posture can affect your ability to breathe by up to 30 percent. This about that: 30 percent. That’s one third of all the other good work you’re doing down the drain. If you’re wondering how the position of your head, neck, shoulders, and back can have such colossal effect on respiration, the answer is pretty simple: your head alone is pretty darn heavy. And when your body isn’t supporting it as well as it should, the rest of your physical functions get thrown out of what big time.” (Vranich, 2016, p.100).
One of the complications with poor posture is that a person with poor postural position has adapted breathing to that position. This person can be coached into putting their body into good posture… for a short while, because the muscles for holding that superior position are not fit for the job any more. And, often, as renown physical therapist Grey Cook points out, while in that superior but unfamiliar posture, they have to restrict their breathing to stay there. (Cook, https://www.otpbooks.com/product/three-principles-you-can-apply-to-any-movement-video/)
Perhaps there is selection bias, but all of my favorite physical therapist, biomechanists and body work experts speak about the relationship between posture and breathing and performance. There are too many quotes and citations to share here.
You need good posture on land, in your daily life, because you need to breathe without restriction in all those hours, awake time and sleeping, because that is when the body is repairing and replenishing systems between training sessions. Breathing supplies the oxygen and removes a great deal of toxins from the system, more than most of us appreciate. The movements of proper breathing massage the tissues and organs and lymph system, aiding in their proper function and in the flow of materials. When your posture degrades, your breathing degrades. When your breathing degrades, your recovery and your performance degrade.
This obviously carries over into the water. In the freestyle stroke, you need to maintain this same kind of superior posture. It is very likely that if your posture is compromised on land with breathing also compromised by it, you will experience posture related breathing restriction in water when posture is not proper and stable there as well. If you have poor posture on land, it is undoubtedly hindering you there. It is nearly guaranteed that you’ll take those problems into the water with you.
Again, the bad news is that poor posture is not often quickly fixed, and neither are the breathing dysfunctions related to it. But the good news is that with time and attention to your posture on land and then to your breathing on land, they can be greatly improved and good habits formed, which will carry over into your swimming.
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