Your Coach Owes you an Apology

Just what is the best way to catch your breath?

TL/TR – watch a short video instead.

Over the last couple of months on social media a debate rages on. What is the best way to recover when you’re out of breathe?

The two options are:  Putting your hands on your head and standing up straight or putting your hands on your knees, bent forward.

I am sure most people can remember at one time in their life when you had just finished running or conditioning for a sport, exhausted, trying to catch your breath.  Naturally, you bend forward and put your hands on your knees. The second you put your hands on your knees you hear a booming voice yell at you “Put your hands on your head”.

For years coaches made sure their athletes would stand tall with their hands on their heads to catch their breath. In fact, I would bet that when you read that last sentence, an old coach pops into your memory. There always seemed to be one coach that seemed to make it their life mission to properly train athletes how to put the hands on the head and stand tall.

Everyone knows that bending forward with hands on your knees is the more comfortable position of the two, and the body almost naturally goes into that position when tired. Well, it turns out there is a good reason why your body naturally feels better bent over. According to a study published in the Translational Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine in 2019 bending forward with hands on your knees is one of the most efficient ways to recover from exertion.

All those years of coaches yelling at you to stand up with hands on your head were for nothing!

Here are a few of the main points of the article: 

  1. Forward flexion of the thoracic spine (bent over) during inhalation/exhalation can help improve recovery by lowering your heart rate quicker and increasing your Tidal Volume ( The amount of air that you are able to breathe in and out)
  2. Forward flexion improved parasympathetic influences- aiding in return to a resting state
  3. When you flex forward, your ribs internally rotate, allowing your diaphragm to operate with maximum efficiency.

Now, with all your new knowledge feel free to reach out to your old coach and ask for an apology!

If you are curious to read more about the study, here is the link to the article:

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