Core Client Habit: Blow Up A Balloon 20X Per Week
Question: Did You Blow Up A Balloon 20X This Past Week?
How To Know You’ve Done This: Blow Up A Balloon 20X This Week.
Breathing forms the basis of movement...change balloons to 5 intentional breaths each day?
You have the power to take control of how you think feel and move with 90 seconds of breathing
Blow up 20 balloons each week and you too, like Mr. Fredrickson from Up, can fly your house to Paradise Falls.
Sadly, we don’t expel helium (and there may be a few other tiny issues with attaching balloons to a house).
So we can’t use balloons to fly to Paradise Falls, but we can watch Up and we can use balloons as a tool for a healthy spine, a calmed nervous system, and a strong core. In fact, blowing up a balloon 20X each week may be the single most important habit you can have in place in your life to ensure you have a healthy, pain free spine.
Why Is This A Core Client Habit?
When we think of “core” strength, it conjures exercises like planks, crunches, and voodoo abdominal belts like the “AB hancer”.
But, even if these exercises strengthen the muscles of our core or gives us a “6-pack imprint”, we may be missing essential pieces to the foundation of healthy, strong, well-positioned midsection.
Our ribcage and pelvis position are like the “foundation” upon which our core muscles operate. Our rib cage and pelvic position determine how well our abdominals muscles will function.
If you have a flared rib cage or a poorly positioned pelvis, strengthening your core muscles is akin to locking yourself further into poor position. This will make more sense as you see the rib cage and pelvis pictures below.
So how does the balloon fit into this?
Exhaling into a balloon gives you the backpressure on your breath to push against. When we naturally breathe out forcefully, it automatically makes us breathe in a way that positions our ribcage and pelvis optimally. Winning!
When we forcefully exhale into a balloon, it fires up the deeper core muscles used for strong exhalation. These muscles like the internal and external obliques and transversus abdominis tug the rib cage down, back, and in, and position the pelvis optimally to allow the diaphragm to dome and the lungs to get air out.
For someone with a flared rib cage, this could be the first time their lungs have fully emptied in decades.
Blowing up a balloon is important for things like…
Decreased lower back pain
Improved sleep quality
Increased core strength
Improved ribcage and diaphragm position
Blowing up a balloon is powerful tool which helps to reduce stress, improve sleep, and eliminate back pain, knee pain, neck pain and allows you to have the independence and mobility you want.
A Breath Of Fresh Air
Every day, you and I breathe somewhere in the ballpark of 23,000 times. Ideally, we inhale, expanding our ribcage and pulling our lungs down allowing air to come in. We exhale, depressing our ribcage the diaphragm goes up and the lungs shrink allowing air to go out.
But as we encounter the modern stresses of life, move poorly, and eat a diet out of line with how we were made to eat, our breathing changes.
Slowly and often imperceptibly, we migrate away from the natural rise and fall of the ribcage, supportive pelvic diaphragm and respiratory diaphragm to a stressful breathing pattern where the diaphragm is pulled taut as a postural stabalizer. .
Flat And Attack Ready
Check out the picture on the right. The rib cage is flared and the pelvis is tilted forward. This stretches the diaphragm taut into attack mode.
On the left picture, Don’s ribcage and pelvis are “open” and his spine is pulled into extended compression. On the right, the diaphragm is up in a dome and pulling the spine into a decompressed position. Ahh! Sweet relief. This is what we call neutral decompression.
This stretching of the diaphragm and forward pull of the hip flexors (left picture) leads to extended compression and extra stress on the spine.
We start to use muscles to breathe all the time which are only meant to be used in times of stress. Our ribcage becomes flared and in a poor position to breathe correctly. Essentially, we get into a breathing rut and it’s difficult to get out.
You’ve likely heard how important our “core” is. But what you may not know is that many of the same muscles used for “core” are used for breathing.
It’s really difficult to get access to these muscles. And for people in pain, these deep, stabilizing, and essential muscles are much less active.
To get out of pain and create a stable spine, we put ourselves in a good position and blow up a balloon to teach our brain and body to more readily go to this position.
How To Do This Client Core Habit
The best position to start is on your back with your feet up on a wall. This position helps to relax your hip flexors, lower back muscles, and makes getting your rib cage and pelvis in a good position automatic.
Easy In, Forcefully Out
Breathe in gently through your nose for a two-count feeling your upper back stretch. Exhale forcefully for a 4-count, paying attention to your rib cage as it goes down.
At the end of each exhale, hold your breath. You can think of this as a stretch. At the end of the stretch is where the most “change” will happen in your tissues. Holding for a few seconds at the end of your exhale trains your brain and body to get your ribcage down with ease.