08 May Taking a Final Breath for Freediving
Hello Freediving Family! I’m going to step by step walk you through how to take a final breath or a full breath. I’m also going to touch on packing and give you my thoughts on it too.
It probably goes without saying that the more air you have in your lungs the more oxygen you will have access to and the longer you’ll be able to hold your breath. Over the year freedivers have developed techniques which we believe are the most efficient way to inhale to your maximum capacity while still maintaining relaxation.
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So your lungs are incredibly flexible and they will keep expanding and expanding until they hit a wall. That wall is always the limits of the outward flexibility of the cavity that surrounds your lungs. Your ribcage, your muscles, your cartilage that all encases your lungs. Your thoracic cavity.
There are groups of muscles around your thoracic cavity that you have a natural control of and so what we’re going to do today is learn to have greater control of those individual muscle groups and then piece it all together for one full and final breath.
The first section we’re going to increase control of is our stomach or abdominal section. This is often referred to as diaphragmatic breathing. All you have to do is inhale and at the same time as you inhale you push your abdominal wall out. As your abdominal wall comes out we allow our diaphragm to drop down even further. In our normal tidal breathing out diaphragm will move up and down around 1 centimetre but when we breathe diaphragmatically our diaphragm can move up and down a whole 7 – 10 centimetres!
Before we start breathing we’re first going to just sit or lay in a relaxed position and without breathing just push your stomach out, then relax it back in. Push it out. Then relax and let it go back to it’s natural position.
Now we’re going to inhale slowly and at the same time we’re going to push our stomach outward. The slower you do this the more control you have. Now while you’re doing this you’re going to want to make sure that your chest is not moving at all. This is all about muscle isolation and control. We want to increase our control of our stomach section.
We’re going to continue breathing deeply into our stomach section and only our stomach section for 2 minutes. This is going to warm up those muscles that may not be accustomed to working like this and make you more comfortable with the movement.
Okay so the next section is out chest section. We’re all very accustomed to breathing with our chest but this may be a little different. Our lungs will keep expanding until they hit a wall. That wall is the outward flexibility of the muscles that surround your lungs. So if you’re breathing with your chest like this or concaved like this you won’t allow your lungs to expand fully into your chest.
What we’re going to do is open up our chest, as if we were being drawn out from the centre of our chest or out solar plexus. We want our thoracic spine, our upper spine to move in a little bit. The slower you do this the more control you have. Let’s ignore the stomach now and as we inhale into our chest we’re going to bring our chests forward. It does look a little like my shoulders are going back but i’m not engaging or moving my shoulders. They are rolling back as the rest of my chest comes forward.
The key here is to not try to inhale so much that you’re fighting for it at the end. Just breath as deeply as you can while remaining relaxed. We’re going to do this for 2 minutes to warm up the muscles and after the two minutes you should be able to take in more air and feel more comfortable doing it. (breathe for 2 minutes)
Now let’s combine these first two sections together. First we’re going to breathe deeply into our stomach and when our stomach section is full we’re going to relax the stomach, let it be pulled back to its neutral position and then roll up into the chest. It should be one smooth motion.
Now we’re going to practice this for the next 2 minutes to develop more coordination and warm the muscle groups up fully. When you exhale don’t worry about controlling the sections. Just relax and let it all go.
It’s normal for those breaths to feel too full. It’s normal for those breaths to be uncomfortable at first but the more we breathe like this the more our flexibility increases and you’ll be able to take in more and more air.
Now that’s basically a full breath. That’s the size of the breath you’re going to want to take before every breath hold and dive. There is another section to add to this though so if that’s feeling good and you’re not feeling stressed at the top on your breath here’s the next section otherwise just stick with those two sections for now.
The third section is our intercostal section. Our intercostal muscles can be pressed outward to make room for more air. It’s not as challenging as you might think. What we’re going to do is get our fingers into a pistol grip and place them around the sides of your ribs.
When you feel like you have a good level of control with that section then it’s time to combine the 3 sections. We’re going to start from the bottom and work our way up. Stomach, intercostals, chest.
It’s normal that when you get to the chest section that you feel like there isn’t much room basically when you breathe into your intercostal section you’ll also fill up some of the space in your chest section. Something really important to know as well is that even though we’ve separated the lungs into sections. Stomach, intercostals, chest. We’re not necessarily directing air to those individual sections inside the lungs. The lungs are just one space on the inside. But these three areas are just muscle groups that can be pressed outward to expand the lungs.
So that’s your new full breath before each breath hold or dive. Fill up the stomach, then relax the stomach and move onto the intercostal section, then move onto the chest.
There is a way to take in even more air into your lungs. It’s called packing. It’s when you use your tongue as a piston to force even more air into your lungs after the point where you’re not able to inhale anymore.
I pack for my dives because it allows me to equalise deeper and I only teach packing to students who are able to dive to minimum 50 or 60 metres as it can be dangerous and you can come across injury. Packing is not necessary for those who are yet to dive to these depths.
Keen to learn more about freediving online? Check out our new in-depth online freediving manual at: www.patreon.com/adamfreediver