Breathing as a Recovery Tool
Use breathing training post-ride to kickstart recovery
The list of recovery tools the modern day cyclists has access to is quite long, and now there are tools promising to monitor and quantify your recovery. But we’re missing the best one, that’s right under your nose.
Massage guns, foam rollers, lacrosse balls, compression boots, compression socks, Oura Rings, Whoop straps…
These days “recovery” seems to be the hot topic. Nearly everyone is talking about the different doo-dads and nutrition tricks we can do to help drive our body into a more parasympathetic (rest and digest) status, so that we can actually build up our fitness. While technology can help us add more information to the equation, the best recovery tool is actually the “embedded hardware” that each one of us already has.
Breathing is so overlooked in the recovery process, in favor of the fancy shmancy gadgets that we can show off to our friends. But it is one of, if not THE, most powerful recovery tool available to us if we know how to use it.
Think of your breathing being a lot like a scalpel: In the hands of the highly trained surgeon is has the ability to create extremely precise incisions that allow them to do the exact mission they need to.
In the hands of ordinary people like me, it’ll just allow me to peel my apple way faster and better than anything before.
Talk about not understanding the power and value of what you have!
When done with the right intent and focus, breathing can drive home a number of positive, stress relieving processes, including aiding to:
- Lower blood pressure
- Lower cortisol levels
- Lower HR
- Return blood flow to the organs of the digestive system
Just to name a few.
Harnessing the power within
If we want to get stronger, quicker, from our workouts, we need to kickstart the recovery process – and stay there – as quickly as possible.
So what would you say if I told you we can get that process started immediately after your current ride, run, or lift, with just 3 minutes of “work”?
With 7-11 breathing, we can do just that!
This may seem like a simple task, because it is, however it is definitely not easy!
How to do it
Simply breathing while laying down is not enough.
We want focused, purposeful breathing, getting full breaths while getting back body expansion, and relaxed, but full lungs. On the exhale, we want to make sure we breathe out slowly, pushing all the air out from the very bottom of the stomach (using the pelvic floor).
Pause for 1 second when you finish both the inhale and exhale, feeling how your body has moved and changed a bit. These changes should be subtle, and allow you to feel relaxed.
3 minutes after each of your workouts is enough, however this time means no talking, no making any movements, or engaging. It’s best done eyes focused straight ahead, with relaxed shoulders.
While this may feel like a “waste” of 3 minutes, over the course of 2-4 weeks you should be able to feel a noticeable change in your posture, as well as how well you’re able to recover after harder intervals on the bike (you’ll need to focus on your breathing post-intervals and practice this skill on the bike), and how fresh you feel the day after your rides where you practice this skill.
Be consistent! Consistency is the boring practice that allows small, incredibly powerful tools, to build up their return on investment and compound their returns.
Have a great week!