Quick Question! How Should I Breathe When I Squat?

Dear Julie, quick question! How should I breathe when I squat?

A lot of my inquiries start this way. Quick questions don’t always have quick answers. Nor should they. Formula seekers….beware….this post is likely not for you.

In any learning endeavor, we must understand basics first, lay a foundation. This gives us a language and framework to begin to add to with our experience. To fuel questions, and to integrate into old skills and understanding. Then we add to this with more complex concepts, problem solving, and application into new and more diverse issues. Understanding that breath mechanics can impact squat mechanics, central control, pelvic/abdominal health, contribute to pregnancy recovery and return to fitness is a great start.

 But….we must keep moving along that learning continuum.

Seeking quick answers won’t help us to keep moving. We need to see the basics for what they are….ONLY a beginning, a launching point. We all must evolve as learners to become good clinical reasoners. I hope to keep propelling folks that direction by answering more of the“quick” clinical questions I receive with, well, more questions. In addition to how should I breathe when I squat, some pretty common questions I receive are.…

  • What are you breathing suggestions for a loaded squat?
  • Do I inhale down and exhale up for a squat?
  • Should I always “Blow Before I Go” during a squat?
  • If I have a pelvic health issue, can I still hold my breath during squats?

My answer to all of them is the same.

The quick answer: “It depends”.

The longer answer: Understand what “it depends” on.

There is no prescriptive, everyone-should- breathe-like-this for lifting….you have to know why you are changing breath mechanics in the first place in order to choose a pattern to facilitate the goals of each individual patient, and to address their physical needs. 

Here’s some of what you need to think it through to figure it out (what “it depends” on):

  • Why are you changing their breath mechanics? 
  • What is happening in their lifting that is prompting you to make a change (symptoms while lifting? pregnancy? prevention? trying to help them reach a new goal?)
  • Are they pregnant? Yes? How far along in pregnancy are they? 
  • Are they post-partum? Yes? How far our from delivery are they?
  • Did they deliver vaginally or by C-section (planned or emergency)? 
  • Are they demonstrating pelvic health considerations?
  • Do you, as a practitioner, know how to screen and ask questions to help you discern if they are having pelvic health issues? 
  • Are they demonstrating a diastasis? If yes, how is that impacting their capacity to control their center and support lifts? 
  • Are they demonstrating good mechanics unloaded? Under the bar at submax loads? Maximal loads? When they fatigue? 
  • What is their current strategy to meet that demand? Is it working for them? 
  • What should you be monitoring for to determine if the pattern you have selected is appropriate to meet their goal and your therapeutic goal? 
  • How can you modify the activity to keep progressing it without symptoms?
  • How will you decide the client is ready to move on to a new pattern, load, challenge?

Heads-up…anticipate this as my new auto-reply for all clinical questions! How should I breathe when I squat? See above? What should I do with my pelvic floor during a squat? See above. Should I squat with a diastasis? See above. 

I explored this in more depth via an exclusive video series just for my newsletter subscribers called “Breath Mechanics for Pelvic Health and Fitness”. Stay tuned, I plan to provide temporary access again in my next newsletter. Subscribe here if you have FOMO and don’t want to miss it again!

If you don’t understand the basics of the questions above: how are breath and pelvic health linked in the first place? Why or how does pregnancy change my recommendations? Why does it matter how far post-partum a client is? What is a diastasis? How do I screen for pelvic health issues? How are pelvic health and fitness intertwined? Please consider one of my foundational intended for pros online or live courses (Piston Science Part One; Female Athlete). Next live adult course is in the Baltimore, MD in May.

If you’ve already done those courses and want to dive deeper and hone your clinical reasoning skills. Problem solve through live cases in my Part Two course either online or live. My next live Part Two is in Seattle, WA in April.

Lots of ways to keep learning and growing!

Happy New Year! Julie

PS- Our next Pediatric offering is in Crowne Point, IN in March! 

Photo credit: traineracademy.org

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2 thoughts on “Quick Question! How Should I Breathe When I Squat?”

  1. Sue Peters says:

    Thanks Julie! Your insight is very valuable! I integrate these strategies and reasonings with my incontinent and pelvic pain patients on a daily basis !

    1. Julie Wiebe says:

      Thanks Sue! I appreciate you weighing in! Hope all is well in Chicago! Julie

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