Recovery: Breathing and the Autonomic Nervous System

Breathing patterns can have a significant effect on many aspects of an individual’s physical and mental performance, recovery, and overall well-being.

As a result, “optimal” breathing has received a lot of attention in recent years, and there are several courses and certifications centered around teaching people how to breathe better.

While teaching strategies to improve breathing stereotypes can be beneficial, it’s important to realize that breathing is both an INPUT and an OUTPUT.

In other words, altering breathing (e.g., changing the tempo, opening up restricted pathways or improving muscular control to allow for more efficient breath, etc.) can provide a beneficial input into the autonomic nervous system and lead to many desirable down-stream changes.

However, the opposite is also true – common lifestyle behaviors (e.g., insufficient or low quality sleep, high perceived stress, inflammatory diet, alcohol/tobacco consumption, etc.) can lead to changes in breathing strategies and ANS tone.

The reality is that the breathing interventions are not likely to stick if the lifestyle factors are not addressed.

Feel free to post any other comments/questions you have below. If you found this helpful, please share/re-post it so others can benefit.

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. For more information on in- and off-season program design, training and reconditioning for injured players, and integrating sports science into a comprehensive training process, check out Optimizing Adaptation & Performance

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