Yoga Poses Flashcards


Runners should learn yoga breathing, or “belly breathing,” which involves breathing predominantly with the diaphragm rather than with the chest muscles.

With belly breathing, the chest hardly moves at all. Rather, it appears that the abdomen (stomach) is doing all the work; as you breathe in, your stomach goes out, and when you exhale, your stomach retracts (see Exercises 6.5). Note that the term belly breathing is incorrect, albeit descriptive. The diaphragm, not the belly, does the work.

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Proper breathing prevents the development of the “stitch,” a condition that occurs only during exercises that are undertaken in the erect posture and that involve running, jolting, or both (A. Abrahams, 1961; Rost, 1986; Sinclair, 1951). The pain of the stitch is usually felt on the right side of the abdomen, immediately below the rib margin. Frequently the pain is also perceived in the right shoulder joint, where it feels as if an ice pick were being driven into the joint. The pain is exacerbated by downhill running and by fast, sustained running

Exercises 6.5 Learning how to belly breathe. A blog placed on the abdomen will rise on the intake of breath (inspiration) and fall when the breath is expelled (expiration).

As in short road races or time trials. Other factors that predispose you to the development of the stitch are lack of training, weakness of the abdominal muscles, cool weather, nervousness, starting a race too fast, and eating and drinking before exercise (Rost, 1986). In addition, constitutional factors seem to be involved, because only certain people are susceptible to the condition.

You can immediately stop an attack of the stitch by lying down with your hips elevated; this also helps differentiate the stitch from other conditions, including chest pain due to heart disease. About 20% of athletes have residual discomfort on deep inspiration for 2 to 3 days after an attack of the stitch (A. Abrahams, 1961).

For various complex anatomical reasons, the fact that the stitch causes discomfort in the shoulder joint suggests that the diaphragm is the cause of the pain. The historical (A. Abrahams, 1961; Sinclair, 1951) explanation which is still favored (Rost, 1986) for this condition is based on the anatomical finding that a group of ligaments that support the stomach, the liver, and the spleen are also attached to the diaphragm. Jolting of these organs during running is believed to cause strain on the diaphragm, which ultimately goes into spasm, causing the pain of the stitch. The tension is greatest at the insertion of the diaphragm into the rib margin, which explains why the discomfort is felt mostly under the rib margin. Rost (1986) suggested that the stitch can be prevented by avoiding food and water for 2 to 4 hours before exercise, by training the abdominal muscles with appropriate sit-ups (see post 13), and by learning how to breathe with the diaphragmto belly breathe.

To belly breathe, lie on the floor and place one or more large blogs on your stomach. Concentrate on making the blogs rise when you breathe in and fall when you exhale. Because it takes about 2 months to learn to do that movement while running fast, it is important to start practicing well before an important race.

A change in breathing pattern may help relieve the stitch. Within a short period of starting a running session, breathing becomes synchronized with footfall. Thus, one automatically breathes in when landing on one leg and out when landing either on the same leg or on the opposite leg. This phenomenon was first reported by Bramble and Carrier (1983). Of particular interest was their finding that most runners are “footed, ’ ’ that is, the beginning and end of their respiratory cycle occurs on the same foot, usually in a stride:breathing ratio of either 4:1 while jogging or 2:1 while running faster. Runners, then, become habituated to breathing out on the same leg. This produces asymmetrical stresses on the body and could be a factor in both the stitch and in certain running injuries.

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