Breathing Exercises and Valsalva Maneuver

Breathing Exercises and Valsalva Maneuver

Introduction

Deep Breathing Exercises, Breathing Techniques, Breathing Exercises and Valsalva Maneuver

One of the things that may fascinate you is the big and plush bungalow or floor. You may get completely mesmerised by its design and look but you tend to miss a lot of crucial things. Those happen to be the foundations of each and every building for example the iron bars (sariya). It is normal human tendency that one only sees the bigger picture. 

In the same way, fit and muscular bodies may fascinate you and you are completely captivated. You start thinking of owning such a body but again, you miss several vital things. Those happen to be one of the foundations of a fit body which is breathing exercises.

Breathing Techniques

Now you all must be wondering what breathing exercises have to do with fitness and body building. Here I would like to draw your attention towards the pivotal role of breathing exercises and oxygen in exercise science. 

Your muscles are metabolically active cells which need nutrition and oxygen to work. Both are delivered by the blood in your body. You consume nutrients through the diet but what about oxygen? How will oxygen reach your muscles?  You may say that it is very simple as you get oxygen by breathing process. But here I am indicating to exercise science where you want efficiency and optimality.

In order to work efficiently, your muscles need optimal level of oxygen. It can only be delivered by correct breathing exercises. Let’s see what pattern of breathing do people follow nowadays in gym or at home.

How To Breathe ?

EXHALE

Let us take an example of abdominal crunches which is the most loved exercise in order to achieve abs. People normally breathe in while coming up and breath out while going down which is not correct. What is a correct breathing technique?  Well, It is just opposite! You have to breath in while going down and breath out while coming up.

To make this concept understand in a better way, I would like to quote an example. Imagine, you have to compress a polythene filled with air. You can compress it completely when all the air moves out. If you want to inflate it again, you will blow in the air again.

How to breathe Properly ?

Now imagine your stomach as a polythene filled with air. When you perform abdominal crunches, you want to compress your abdominal muscles while coming up. Will you really be able to compress or contract your abdominal muscles with 100% efficiency ? The answer is not at all. You tend to fill your abdomen with air when you inhale while going up.

Here you are performing the exercise but not optimally as your abdomen contains air. You try to shorten or contract abdominal muscle filled with air leading to partial contraction. 

In general, there are 2 types of breathing exercises. One is for general public and the other one is for people who are in practice of exercising. I will first explain the general breathing exercises that a common man can perform and later will focus on Valsalva maneuver.

Valsalva Maneuver

One has to breath out when the target muscle shortens and breath in when the target muscle lengthens. In layman language, breathe in while contracting the target muscle and breathe out while relaxing the same muscle. The advantage of this breathing technique is that it does not spike your blood pressure. It prepares you for an advanced breathing technique known as Valsalva Maneuver by keeping you in comfort zone.

The Valsalva Technique/ Maneuver is a concept of breath holding. This maneuver is performed during the work phase of the lift. One has to inhale before the exercise, hold his/her breath through the most difficult phase of the lift and exhale to complete the lift. Let’s take an example of squat. 

Squat Exercise & Valsalva Maneuver

INHALE

There are two phases in squat: downphase and upphase that is you go down and then come up while performing squat. Here, you have to breath in just before you begin the exercise and hold the breath while you go down. Come up and exhale just before the completion of the squat. 

There is a scientific reason behind holding the breath. If you do so, there will be maximal involvement of the target muscle for example quadriceps muscle in squat. If you inhale or exhale during the repetitions, the engagement of your respiratory muscles will be more reducing the load on the target muscles. I am sure you will never want this to happen.

Weightlifting Technique & Valsalva Maneuver

Valsalva maneuver must be applied during every exercise specially weight-lifting exercises. This is due to the need of a stable core while lifting heavy weights. Beginners should not perform it because they find it tricky and difficult to perform. This technique may alter the blood pressure to a certain extent which is not favorable specially to those who are facing blood pressure issues. 

Even many healthy individuals face issues with Valsalva maneuver as their blood pressure increases. Though the rise in blood pressure is not extensive, they may find it hard to handle.  You cannot ignore the fact that initially, this technique is slightly tricky, difficult and tiring too. But believe me, once you are into it, your efficiency will definitely improve. You will lift humongous weight that too with an ease.

Definitely, you will be going to love weights and this weight lifting technique. 

Deep Breathing Exercises

Here with the help of breathing exercises, we are training one of the most important muscles known as TVA ( Transversus abdominal muscle). TVA is a natural belt of our body  and its main function is to provide pelvic stability. The more you train it, the more your body gets stable. You will not be needing much support of artificial weight belts to support your core. 

This is also true that deep breathing exercises such as Anulom Vilom and Kapalbhati do play an important role in improving  blood oxygen levels in the body. These deep breathing exercises if performed for 10-15 minutes in morning, will act as a cherry on the cake by improving the capacity of performing Valsalva maneuver.

All breathing exercises are completely miraculous and help you explore a new you with improved capacity and performance.


Dr.Priyanka Jain (PT)

I am a zestful and exuberant lady who loves to observe different activities across the globe be it the fashion, beauty, nutrition, fitness & wellness, politics and immeasurably more. Let's share what we all know with each other and make this world a better place.

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