Inevitably the issue of breathing had to come up in our experimental Calisthenics class. Breathing can influence so may aspects of performance, that it’s worth becoming familiar with some of the more popular breathing drills and concepts.
Increasingly you will see on cutting edged fitness blogs, the 90/90 breathing drill. As a cutting edge fitness class we looked at this skill last night.
The original 90/90 hip lift breathing drill was, to my knowledge, properly discussed by Boyle et al, ( 2010).
90/90 breathing was designed, so they say, to optimise breathing and enhance posture and core stability. The idea being this would improve improve function and/or decrease pain (Boyle et al., 2010).
Here is a handy dandy “How to do it” guide
- Lie on your back, feet flat on the wall, knees and hips bent at a 90- degree angle.
- Place a 4-6 inch ball between your knees.
- Place your right arm above your head and a balloon in your left hand.
- Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth, performing a pelvic tilt so that your tailbone is raised slightly off the mat. Keep your back flat on the mat. Do not press your feet flat into the wall instead dig down with your heels. You should feel your hamstrings “engage”
- Breath in through your nose and slowly blow out into the balloon.
- Pause three seconds with your tongue on the roof of your mouth.
- Without pinching the neck of the balloon and keeping your tongue on the roof of your mouth, take another breath in through your nose (the first few times you do this is slightly tricky).
- Slowly blow out into the balloon again.
- Do not strain your neck or cheeks .
- The original instructions say “After the fourth breath in, pinch the balloon neck and remove it from your mouth.Let the air out of the balloon”. Frankly, i just open my mouth and let it fly around the room ( I have a pile of balloons to hand so I don’t have to move to get another one. My girlfriend says this is annoying.
- Relax and repeat the sequence 4 more times.
You can checkout more materials at the Postural Rehabilitation Organisation
The 90/90 rests on a concept called the zone of apposition (ZOA) of the diaphragm, which is the part of the muscle shaped like a dome. In simple terms “MORE DOME GOOD”
If the ZOA is decreased the ability of the diaphragm to inhale sufficient air in a correct way is diminished. This affects the diaphragms ability to build up intra abdominal pressure. If the ZOA is decreased The transversus abdominis activation also decreases with a smaller ZOA (Boyle et al, 2010), which again affects lumbar stabilisation ability .
The set up of 90/90 , allegedly aligns the pelvic floor and diaphragm in parallel. This combats any upper and lower cross syndromes, and lumbar extension. This results in the core muscles being fired which increases the ZOA and adds to core stability. As an exercise in the obvious, dysfunctional breathing and physical activity takes up the main breathing muscles and throws the load on to smaller muscles and makes life harder. However, according to Lukas (2018) there is little evidence in terms of studies to support this, although it sounds like a reasonable assumption. However, the Lukas study does seem to caste doubt on 90/90 as core stabilisation method
“Taken together, the 90/90 breathing seems rather ineffective as a general core activation for a normal workout.” (Lukas , 2018 page 35). but checkout these drills by Buteyko and these other breathing drills
I think some attention to basic breathing drills is probably useful, but its more relevant if you obviously have a breathing disfunction.
Why not practice on the tube (not with the balloon, obviously).
Alverdes, Lukas (2018) .Short-term effects of 90/90 breathing with ball and balloon on core stability. Halmstad University
Boyle, K. L., Olinick, J., & Lewis, C. (2010). The value of blowing up a balloon. North American journal of sports physical therapy: NAJSPT, 5(3), 179.