Crocodile breathing involves taking diaphragmatic breaths while lying face-down. Doing this can improve shoulder mobility on the spot, says Ranah Farkhondeh, Tier X coach at E Madison Avenue in New York City.
Breathing expands your lungs so they’re braced against the surrounding muscles. Most people inhale into their chests, which puts pressure on the upper rib cage and causes the whole structure to tilt back with every breath, limiting mobility in the nearby shoulder blades and thoracic spine.
But when you breathe into your diaphragm, your lungs instead place pressure on the pelvis and lower spine. This holds your rib cage and pelvis in a neutral position, setting your shoulders up for full range of motion. For this purpose, the crocodile technique is more effective than upright diaphragmatic breathing because it provides more tactile feedback, Farkhondeh explains, so you can perfect each breath before you start lifting.
Practice crocodile breathing before shoulder exercises like handstands, pull-ups, or snatches. To do it, lie face-down with forehead resting on hands and let your chest and hips sink into the floor. Inhale through your nose and into your diaphragm for four slow counts so that your stomach pushes against the ground at every angle. Pause for two seconds, then exhale through the nose for six slow counts. Repeat five to seven times before moving on to your workout.
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