As we noted in the “Move to Live and Live to Move” section we will be breaking the exercise “reboot” prescription into 4 different segments which we are naming “Reptile”, “Mammal” and “Primate” and “Human”. These Animal descriptions portray the physical image of the exercises being performed. The exercises within “Reptile” form the foundation for those in “Mammal” and those then form the foundation for the exercises that will be included in the “Primate / Human” section.
In the Reptile section we will be looking at the following:
- Part 1: The importance of proper breathing and the consequences of faulty breathing. We will also include exercises that will teach you to restore proper technique. (Crocodile Breathing)
- Part 2: We will focus on developing the vestibular system with a focus on spinal muscle co-ordination and activation (Rolling Patterns)
- Part 3: We will further our development of the vestibular system and begin a more definitive look into the spiral patterns of muscle and fascia in our body (Army Crawls)
The Reptile Part 1: Breathing
Utilizing oxygen from the air is the key requirement for all land based animals. We can not exist without performing the function of breathing. It is common for people to refer to the fact that we can live a couple weeks without food but can only live a couple days without water. This is true and hydration is a very important concept to understand for basic life function as well as athletic performance. However, both the food and water requirements are mute when compared to the fact we would live only a few minutes without oxygen. All the cells in your body require oxygen. Without it, the cells couldn't move, build, reproduce, and turn food into energy.
It is because breathing is so imperative to each and every function our bodies perform I believe it is not only important but necessary to break down the basics of the respiratory system so that you can appreciate the need to put focused attention on breathing as an isolated exercises but also your breathing during each and every exercise you do.
How do you breathe?
You breathe with your diaphragm and the help of other muscles in your chest and abdomen. These muscles literally change the space and pressure inside your body to accommodate breathing.
The diaphragm and the external intercostals muscles (see figure 1 below) are our primary muscles of respiration (breathing). The diaphragm is a large muscle located between our thoracic (area enclosed by our rib cage) and abdominal cavities.
Diaphragm: During inhalation, contraction of the diaphragm results in the diaphragm moving down into the abdominal cavity. This has the effect of increasing the vertical (up and down) area within the thoracic cavity which decreases the air pressure in the lungs to a level lower than our environment. The decreased pressure in the lungs allows air to move from our environment and into the lungs.
External intercostals: During inhalation, the external intercostals act to elevate the ribs and sternum in an anterior to posterior (front to back) direction and thus increase the anterior to posterior dimensions of the thoracic cavity which again increases the volume and also lowers air pressure within the lung to further permit air to enter into the lungs.
As the external intercostals & diaphragm contract, the lungs expand. The expansion of the lungs causes the pressure in the lungs (and alveoli) to become slightly negative relative to atmospheric pressure. As a result, air moves from an area of higher pressure (the air) to an area of lower pressure (our lungs & alveoli).
Above (inhalation) you can see the diaphragm moves down and the ribcage moving out which increases the volume allowing the lungs to expand. On the right (exhalation) you can see the diaphragm moving back up into the thoracic cavity and the ribcage moving inwards decreasing the volume and pushing the air back out into the environment.
During expiration, the muscles relax & lung volume decreases. This causes pressure in the lungs (and alveoli) to become slightly positive relative to atmospheric pressure. As a result, air leaves the lungs. The outward breathing of gasses from inside our body back into our environment is a more passive mechanism and is the result of the external intercostals and the diaphragm relaxing and thus reducing the dimensions of the thoracic cavity which has the effect of increasing air pressure above that of our environment and pushing air out of the lungs.
The pressure within our lungs is known as intra-alveolar pressure.
Figure 2: The Respiratory System:
A short physiology of the Respiratory System:
Breathing starts at the nose and mouth. You inhale air into your nose or mouth, and it travels down the back of your throat and into your windpipe (trachea). The trachea then divides into air passages called bronchial tubes.
Within the lungs, the bronchial tubes divide into smaller air passages called bronchioles. The bronchioles end in tiny balloon-like air sacs called alveoli. Your body has over 300 million alveoli. If you spread the alveoli flat they would cover the same area as a tennis court!
The alveoli are surrounded by a mesh of tiny blood vessels called capillaries. Oxygen from the inhaled air passes through the alveoli walls and into the blood.
After absorbing oxygen, the blood leaves the lungs and is carried to your heart. Your heart then pumps it through your body to provide oxygen to the cells of your tissues and organs.
As the cells use the oxygen, carbon dioxide is produced and absorbed into the blood. Your blood then carries the carbon dioxide back to your lungs through the capillaries, where it is removed from the body when you exhale.
Oxygen used to create energy:
All human cells, especially your brain/nervous system cells (called neurons), need energy to do their job. All cells use blood sugar (glucose) and oxygen to create Adenosine Tri-Phosphate (ATP). ATP is the energy source that fuels cell function. This includes, muscle contractions and thought processes so walking the golf course, making swings, chips, putts and decisions. (as well as how you react to each shot) is based on the ATP you can produce through proper oxygen delivery.
If your cells need more energy, they use more oxygen. That is why your breathing rate increases when you exercise.
If your cells do not receive enough oxygen, they produce less energy.
Take Home Points:
- All the cells in your body require oxygen. Without oxygen, the cells couldn't move, build, reproduce, and turn food into energy;
- The diaphragm and the external intercostals muscles are our primary muscles of respiration;
- Inhaling: As the external intercostals & diaphragm contract, the lungs expand. The expansion of the lungs causes the pressure in the lungs to become slightly negative relative to atmospheric pressure. As a result, air moves from an area of higher pressure (the air) to an area of lower pressure (our lungs & alveoli);
- Exhaling: A passive movement under normal conditions ;
- Muscle contractions and thought processes ( walking the golf course, making swings, chips, putts and decisions as well as how you react to each shot) is based on the ATP (energy) you can produce through proper oxygen delivery;