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Breathing lessons

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Leaving aside the controversies over the suitability of transferring walking skills to skiing, I would like to bring up another way to tie something one does by nature, which is breathing, to skiing, specifically using the actions of inhalation and exhalation to assist movements made in skiing.

First we may need to teach proper breathing: to fill and empty the lungs completely, rather than the short breaths most of us use to breathe. A full inhalation oxygenates the muscles, a full exhalation discharges CO2. A yoga instructor who skis with me says that it is extremely important to get rid of the bad air, and that most people are able to inhale properly, but fail to fully exhale to get rid of the bad air, so their muscles are on short rations.

Second, I liken breathing to contraction (inhale) and extension (exhale) by using a kick or a punch to illustrate. Inhale to load, and exhale to discharge.

I used this metaphor in a powder lesson yesterday, focusing on inhaling on the release and exhaling through the pressure phase to get more power to the muscles and to use the rhythm to assist initiation and turning.

I found that this tactic had several advantages. One, it got people breathing and focusing on their breathing, which took their minds off external worries. Second, it gave them a means to cue their movements. Third, it integrated body and action.

I'm curious to know how this strikes you as a technical matter and how others employ breathing lessons as part of ski lessons.
post #2 of 20
Nolo,

You confused me a bit with the contraction and extension. I tend to think in terms of contraction/relaxation of muscles, and flexion/extension. So to me, contraction of the muscles makes me extend. That's why I got confused.

I have used breathing exercises a bit, and I like them for specific purposes. Your example of a powder lesson does seem to be a good use for it. When I use breathing in a lesson, I tend to think of exhaling as relaxing/flexing, and inhaling as contracting/extending. I think this may be backwards to your use, where as in something like weight lifting and probably throwing a punch (I'm not a boxer and have never tried martial arts), you exhale to lift the weights, and inhale as you bring the weights back down.

In powder (not super steep), I tend to think the turns are too relaxed to think of it the same way as throwing a punch or lifting weights. I try to be less forceful in the powder. Now bumps, on the other hand......

As confused as I am about your statement, as long as the student understood it, and it worked, then no problemo, nolo.
post #3 of 20
Inhale through the nose in a controlled manner. Exhale through the mouth to control muscle contraction (leg muscles).

Inhale when unweighted. Exhale when weighted.

For example: In the moguls, when skiing the zipper line, exhale on the impact/deceleration phase. Inhale on the unweighted/turning phase.

In weight training, the drill is to exhale on the push phase and inhale on the return phase. This permits the blood pressure to remain more normal and avoids BP spikes and makes the process of breathing easier since the exhale is done during the phase when your muscles are naturally contracting and would normally push out the air anyway.

I hope this makes sense.

Mark
post #4 of 20
Nolo,

I think most people would agree with you, and MD’59 brings up some good examples. I also try to explain to folks how breathing deeply versus shallow, which is what you describe, affects their mental state. Shallow breathing is associated with anxiousness and deep breathing is confidence. Deep breathing replenishes oxygen to our blood. This will help remove lactic acid build-up. Shallow breathing or hyperventilating, will make you dizzy and have sore muscles.

By making the student attentive to their breathing, how, when, how often, will help them ski more economically. It is good to expel all the old air. I find quite a few students actually hold their breath. This happens more often than they realize. This could by why they have to stop. They forget to breath in hairy situations. I find this happens to beginners as well as level “9”’s.

Jim
post #5 of 20
There are some hairy situations when you have to hold your breath know what I mean?

You guys crack me up!
post #6 of 20
Oh, you mean like in Lamaze classes? That all coinsides with muscle contractions and hairy situations. [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]
post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 
Lars,

Thanks for the tip about Lamaze. I hadn't realized you'd done the class! It's a good example of how you want to get a good deep breath before giving a good steady push.

JohnH, I did mess up in saying contract and expand. Thank you for correcting me and getting past it. I taught breathing in a powder class, but I could teach it in any context. The analogy is not the rule: I use the idea of a punch or a kick because it illustrates how breathing can facilitate release and extension in any turn.

Maddog and Jim, I appreciate your comments.

To all, I did bring up the topic of breathing because I fear that often we teachers assume a basic level of understanding about athletic performance that people just don't have.
post #8 of 20
Yes Nolo, a correct breathing technique goes a long way in helping a skier performances (and I am not talking about speed)
I wish that the instructors I had in my years had taught that too, not only the skiing technique in itself.
I can breathe only throught one nostril, the other being closed
(the nose septum is not straight).
So I use those BreatheRight(r) nasal strips to help (as a matter of fact, I always carry a spare one in my wallet, even now, one never knows) inhale more air through the nose, AND need to constantly make a conscious effort to remind miself to breath, otherwise I would end up
consciously working holding my breath.
This, as it's been pointed out, leads to being quickly fatigued.
I've taken up tai chi classes for this reason too, so to transform what is a conscious effort into an inconscious work.
Keep teaching your students how and when to breathe, the advantages to their skiing will be noticeable!
post #9 of 20
nolo, are you familiar with Dr. Andrew Weil and his breathing techniques?
post #10 of 20
Quote:
Originally posted by Maddog1959:
Inhale through the nose in a controlled manner. Exhale through the mouth to control muscle contraction (leg muscles).

Inhale when unweighted. Exhale when weighted.

For example: In the moguls, when skiing the zipper line, exhale on the impact/deceleration phase. Inhale on the unweighted/turning phase.
I hope this makes sense.

Mark
When you're hammering it in the moguls how big a breath could you get before you weighted/unweighted?

What about when you're making fast turns? racing? steeps?

For an answer, take a deep breath and time it.
post #11 of 20
[quote]Originally posted by FlipFlopFly:
Quote:
When you're hammering it in the moguls how big a breath could you get before you weighted/unweighted?

What about when you're making fast turns? racing? steeps?

For an answer, take a deep breath and time it.
I am always surprised when I find out that breathing is an issue. But then I swam for a team and learned that breathing is critical not just in deep breathing but how and when as well.

The keys to breathing are: 1. Explosive intake to fill the lungs, and a methodical controlled exhale. 2. Timing inhalation to correspond to times of a relatively "more" relaxed muscular state, timing exhalation to correspond to times of a relatively “more” tensed muscular state. 3. Completely empting the lungs of stale air on each breathing cycle.

In skiing, the above means inhale on the unweighted phase and exhale on the weighted phase. However, there are times when that cannot be done, such as skiing a steep tight zipper line for world-class bump skiers. In that case, the skier must hyperventilate at the top and make the effort to breath as deeply as possible throughout the run. The reason zipper lines are short and even world-class skiers are out of breath after skiing them is because they cannot breath sufficiently and they go anaerobic. But since this is not how anyone spends an entire ski day, breathing for this specific circumstance is of little concern for the average skier skiing the average run.

Here is the strategy I would use in a fast GS style turns. Exhale as pressure builds in your thighs (as you start and hold the turn). Continue exhaling in a controlled manner throughout the turn. Just as you begin to make your pole plant (the start of the unweighted phase) explosively inhale, refilling your lungs. The key is to have completely exhaled just before you are setting up to reach for your pole plant.

Flipflopfly, I have never found it difficult to maintain good breathing habits in moguls, steeps, or any conditions, but then I am really too old to spend more than a run or two in the zipper line. And remember, just as swimmers do not have to breath on each lift stroke of the arm, you don’t have to breath on each unweighting of the skis. Proper breathing habits will help you develop larger lungs, improved airflow and your body will be able to transfer oxygen from the air to the blood stream more efficiently.

Mark
post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally posted by Maddog1959:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by FlipFlopFly:
Quote:
When you're hammering it in the moguls how big a breath could you get before you weighted/unweighted?

What about when you're making fast turns? racing? steeps?

For an answer, take a deep breath and time it.
\

Flipflopfly, I have never found it difficult to maintain good breathing habits in moguls, steeps, or any conditions, but then I am really too old to spend more than a run or two in the zipper line. And remember, just as swimmers do not have to breath on each lift stroke of the arm, you don’t have to breath on each unweighting of the skis. Proper breathing habits will help you develop larger lungs, improved airflow and your body will be able to transfer oxygen from the air to the blood stream more efficiently.

Mark</font>
Touche'
post #13 of 20
Nolo
My instructor taught me this a couple of years ago - he was taught to use it by his race coach. Seems to work well for me to release tension & as someone mentioned at the time I was taught it I had a tendency to hold my breath a bit when I was fretting. the breathing did 3 things
1)Made me breathe properly
2) released tension
3) gave me a focus that helped timing & stopped me being 'fretty'
post #14 of 20
Just an anecdotal comment: I was taking a Level 8 class a couple of years ago and asked the instructor just that question -how to breathe properly in bumps. He said "Get into shape!" I told him that that was not the answer I was after (my shape at that time actually was great: I weighed 15 lbs less than I do now, and I was getting ready for a black belt test in TKD), and that if he didn't know, then why didn't he just say so, but that was the end of our conversation.

Now I have discovered here in this forum what the breathing pattern should be, and it's great! (Not that I ever held my breath [img]tongue.gif[/img] , but I did get hyperventilated a fair number of times)

[ February 13, 2003, 06:29 PM: Message edited by: AlexG ]
post #15 of 20
Thread Starter 
That's good to hear, AlexG. I can't emphasize enough how important it is to fully exhale. Think of it as exhaust. Pee-yew!

[ February 13, 2003, 07:08 PM: Message edited by: nolo ]
post #16 of 20
In strict anatomical terms, inhalation facilitates spinal extension, and exhalation facilitates spinal flexion. But in weight training, an exhalation,in most cases is used on exertion to prevent raising the blood pressure too high, while lifting heavy loads.

Exhalation is the best utilization of the transverse [stabilizing} abdominal muscle. It is the function of the transverse to compress the contents of the diaphragm on exhalation. We use the exhalation when we want the maximum deep core support for a movement. And if someone is not exhaling completely, they are not getting complete transverse activation, and may possibly, but not necessarily, have stability issues.

Sports medicine experts have been experimenting with varying breathing patterns to coorect movement habits that are less than optimal. For example, if someone has a tendency to hyperflex their spine on certain flexing movemnents, they may be told to inhale, even though it is counter intuitive.

In contrast, people who are excessively lordodic, who tend to hyperextend their spines, may be told to experiment with exhaling, as opposed to inhaling, on extension movements.

Sometimes, postural distortion tendencies can lead to dysfunctional breathing, which can in turn effect movement patterns, and create anxiety where anxiety is not needed.
post #17 of 20
wow Lisa. I think you have a lot of interesting information to share.. I admit I got lost in some of the more technical terminolgy you used. Can you restate in laywoman's terms...

thanks,
kiersten
post #18 of 20
No problem! Just let me know which parts you didn't get, and I will gladly oblige! [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #19 of 20
Quote:
Originally posted by Lisamarie:
In contrast, people who are excessively lordodic, who tend to hyperextend their spines, may be told to experiment with exhaling, as opposed to inhaling, on extension movements.

Sometimes, postural distortion tendencies can lead to dysfunctional breathing, which can in turn effect movement patterns, and create anxiety where anxiety is not needed.
that's the part I didn't fully "get". thanks.
post #20 of 20
OK, cool! I have a tendency to write too much, so I wanted to make sure I didn't go overboard, and lose people even more.
Keep in mind that what I'm talking about is still in experimental stages. If someone has a sway back posture, their spine can tend towards excessive extension. These are people who upon inhalation, may tend to jut their ribs foward military style. Experiment with this now.
What happens to your pelvis if you inhale, and jut your ribs to far foward? It goes back. Now visualize what would this would look like on skis.
Rib cage in front of the center of gravity, pelvis behind it.
Not a very powerful position.

In an ideal world, we would teach the person how to breath laterally, keeping the ribs woven together, and how to use the core stabilizers to keep the pelvis in alignment.
But how the heck are you going to do that on a ski slope, when what someone really wants to do is ski?

So what you can play around with, is having the person exhale onn extension movements. Since exhalation will facilitate flexion, the person may be a bit more likely to keep their ribs together, and their pelvis in alignment.
Keep in mind this does not always work. But sometimes it does.

If you look in the fitness section, I have a new topic, De Evolution. The hunched over computer geek exhibits too much flexion. Its not hard to imagine what they would look like if they were skiing in that alignment [img]smile.gif[/img]

So, since exhalation facilitates spinal flexion, you may play around with having them inhale on flexion moves.

People who are excessively tight in their neck, chest and upper back, may have difficulty breathing correctly. ifthe breathing is insufficient, they may experience anxiety when there's no need to feel anxiety. The physiological state of anxiety is characterized by cortisol without adrenaline, which can lead to limited pain tolerance.

Its often not enough to tell these people to breath. You need to mobilize the muscles needed to do this effciently.

At the academy I had everybody do shoulder rolls and a few other upper body warmups, prior to skiing.

Is this clearer? [img]smile.gif[/img]
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