My 4 Favorite Breathing Exercises

If you missed my last post on the importance of breathing habits to relieve pain and improve recovery, click here before you take a look on to my most used breathing exercises.

Just to quickly recap, breathing is super important in order to restore full mobility and to help with recovery. If we are unable to breath correctly then we will not be able to move correctly. Plain and simple.

With these exercises listed I have helped get people out of pain or gained range of motion in their shoulders, spine, and hips almost as if it was like magic.

What’s the secret?

Just getting airflow into areas where it wasn’t going before.

90/90 Hip Lift


This is my go to exercise to get clients out of low back pain.

By digging your heels into the box you are using the hamstrings to help curl the pelvis back, slightly lifting the tailbone off the floor, and smashing your low back into the ground. There is also a half foam roller or a small ball that goes in-between the knees that you are squeezing. Once in the position, you are staying there for the duration of the exercise. From there, you inhale through the nose then exhale through the mouth to the point where you feel like you have no air left in your lungs. As you breath out you are dropping the rib cage down, and you’ll start to feel your abs light up like a Christmas tree. After a full exhale, hold your breath for about 5 seconds to allow for the body to reset. With the next inhale, keep the tension in your abs and don’t allow your ribcage to flare back up. Feel some expansion in your chest and in your rib cage laterally. Repeat for 2 sets of 5 breaths.

The Bear

This breathing exercise is a killer. (Thanks to Mike Robertson)

I like to use this one for individuals who are also dealing with some low back pain and/or if someone has a flat thoracic spine.

So starting on your hands and knees, you push yourself away from the floor. Feel your shoulder blades wrap around your ribcage. This is where your reach is coming from, not necessarily rounding out the rib cage. As you push through your hands, lift your knees about 1 inch off the floor and roll your hips back, in other words, roll your pubic bone towards your chest. Again, maintaining this position for the set. Making sure the neck is in a neutral position and your upper traps are relaxed, complete full breath cycles with max inhales through the nose and exhales through the mouth, holding your breath after a full exhale for about 5 seconds. Repeat for 2 sets of 5 breaths.

Squat Hang

The squat hang is a go to for me after a training session and wanting to get your body into a parasympathetic state to start that recovery process.

Going down into a full squat position, you are hanging onto the bar. If you were to let go of the bar here you should roll right back. The weight is through the heels, so try to wiggle your toes to make sure your weight is distributed to the right spot. There is a foam roller in-between the knees that your squeezing and also rotating the pelvis backwards as hard as you can in this position, and allow the shoulder blades to wrap around the rib cage. Like the previous exercises, perform this for 2 sets of 5 breaths with full inhales through the nose and exhales through the mouth, holding the breath after the full exhale for a few seconds. Be sure to feel your upper back fill with air as you inhale.

PRI Wall Squat

This is the most advanced of the exercises in this post, but the simplest variation. This is good for someone dealing with low back, a postural reset, and a good exercise I’ll put into someones warmup as you will feel the legs lighting up.

You start back up against the wall with your feet approximately 6 inches away from the wall. From there, slide down with your knees going forward and keeping the weight through the heels. A foam roller is placed between the knees to squeeze and curling the pelvis backwards to slightly lift the tailbone off the wall, just like in the 90/90 hip lift. Reach with both arms down and out so your upper back is off the wall. Make sure the upper traps are relaxed. At this point, your low back should be the only part that is against the wall. Complete full breath cycles for 2 sets of 5 breaths holding the breath for a few seconds after an exhale. When inhaling, you should feel the upper back expand with air.

So there ya have it, my top 4 breathing exercises. I more often than not will always come back to these exercises to improve posture, reduce pain, and jumpstart the recovery.

Give these few a try and see if these will help

Still having trouble getting out of pain or feeling better? Be sure to head over to my Online Coaching page to see if you would have any interest in becoming a client by getting you out of pain and improving mobility through customized programming.

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