Training – Tactical Breathing – Blog 21-8

Try holding your breath until you pass out. You can’t, our bodies have natural processes that insure our survival. Well, were you able to? No, because your body has a sympathetic response which initiates our breathing unless the body breathing stimulus has been damaged.

When we are faced with a high stress situation, our bodies will begin to increase our breathing rate. This is good, because the body ensures that our blood is oxygenated and this is pumped to our muscle groups and brain to help us function and make decisions in the situation. But this can go to the extreme where the breathing rate will do more harm than good.

General Adaptation Syndrome: Stress Response

Hyperventilation can occur when you are in a fight of flight situation. Hyperventilation is a stress response which can initiate changes in our body. It will initiate changes in our body that are immediate. What does hyperventilation do? It causes:

  • A reduction of CO2 in the bloodstream, accompanied by a lowering of the acid level of your blood.
  • An increased blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Changes in kidney function.
  • An increased risk of heart arrhythmias.
  • A decrease supply of oxygen to brain tissue.
  • An increase for the arteries in the brain to narrow, which reduces blood flow and oxygen delivery.

So, you now know that you really don’t want to be hyperventilating if you are in a fight for your life.

In contrast, there has been research that shows that by consciously making changes in your breathing rate in which you are purposely slowing down your respiratory rate and increasing your depth of the breath significantly; you can reduce the anxiety under stressful conditions and raise your threshold of tolerance to pain. Additional studies so that this type of breathing can also edify certain mental processes in acquiring and processing new information. Your brain stays in the game.

Tactical breathing has two goals. By taking slow deep breaths that expand the stomach and to control of how many breaths in the cycle. What tactical breathing will do is to force your lungs to expand to their fullest capacity which will deliver more oxygen for your body. The length of your inhalation will also help slow down your respiration rate. After repeating the tactical breathing exercise for at least three reps, you should find that your heart rate has lowered, your perceptual and cognitive functions become sharper, and your motor performance will improve.

So, if you are having a stress response (increased heart rate, rapid breathing, abnormal sweating, and uncontrollable muscle trembling), you should begin your tactical breathing.

Many trainers believe this method of slowing your system down during a stress response should be introduced as a compulsory topic for stress conditioning.

The Tactical Breathing Exercise

  1. Breathe in through your nose for a count of four. The breath should fill your belly.
  2. Hold the breath for a count of four.
  3. Exhale for a count of four, emptying your belly.
  4. Hold for a count of four.
  5. Repeat three times.

That is the exercise. It can not get any simpler and will provide dividends to you in a stress response, not only in a fight, but anytime during your day, you have a stress response.

With smart phones that almost everyone carries, you can find apps that will coach you through this exercise.

An application I have on my phone is the Tactical Breather. This app provides a tutorial, and a verbal coaching through the exercise. You can set the voice to male or female. It has an introduction for explaining the benefits of using this method of slowing down.

What can you do to handle the Adrenalin Dump? This should be your first step. It’s investment is small, yet the benefits are large.

Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others.”

– Winston Churchill

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