Crucial Core Stability Test – Can You BREATHE Like This?

When it comes down to it, the most important movement pattern you MUST master is BREATHING!

Nothing is more important.

I just had a discussion with a Core Wellness Institute coaching student this morning about how you must always stay vigilant and aware when you slip into a shallow, stress breathing pattern.

Because if you don’t “catch yourself” and “release and rewire” that pattern, it will get you.  It will eventually take you down.

Chronic hyperventilation that comes along with this short, chest based breathing pattern not only reduces the amount of available oxygen to your tissues, and creates excess stress and tension in your neck and shoulders, it also creates an alkaline environment in your blood.

Some people may think “alkaline’s good, right?”

In your tissues, yes.  But when you’re blood becomes even a tad alkaline from shallow breathing, your hemoglobin holds onto oxygen much more fiercely so your tissues don’t get it!

That means not only are you not taking enough O2 in, you’re also getting a double whammy from your hemoglobin’s reluctance to give it up to you!

So make sure you master the art of breathing and I promise…everything will get better.  It has no choice.

Dr. Steve


  1. I noticed my mid back started hurting today when I first started my morning walk but when I focused on this breathing, it almost immediately stopped! Tks, Dr. H.

  2. Just to boast, my breathing-to-center-and-testing-it-with-the-thumbs worked! I completely credit your course for this, many thanks.
    Dr.Steve, when you demonstrate the quick brace, your thumbs pop *outwards.* This way works great, it gives me instant strength. It also makes good breathing easier. Interesting though, it’s sort of the opposite of the old gym-teacher slogan of “suck in your gut.” So this better way is just taking some re-training!

    • Thanks Cynthia. You are an excellent student and glad to have you on board the bus! I’ve enjoyed your curiosity and thought provoking questions.

      And yes, the days of the old damaging advice of “suck in your gut” are over, but unfortunately, only in a few select circles. The rest of the world will take a while to catch up.

      Like I said in the video, you must “release and rewire” the poor movement programs. So retraining is a great way to think about it!

  3. Thanks for the great website and useful hints. I am a Pilates instructor in Sydney Australia, In fact, probably the first not ballet person to teach pilates having started 30 years ago.
    I totally agree with your concept of bracing the core and have been using this for a few years now having lost all faith in the pilates (and gym) ‘navel to spine’ approach.
    This works wonderfully and (as I specialize in back pain having got into Pilates through a back injury from rugby) I have adopted this with all my clients and they have reported greater stability and a lack of ‘tiredness’ when standing for long periods.
    Once again, thanks for the great site.
    Allan Menezes

    • Bingo, Allan! Thanks for your comments!

      In my experience, abdominal hollowing is good for re-establishing the “connection” to the transverse abs (to establish body awareness) or to release fascia between organs…But NOT for stability and efficient movement!

      Increased ENERGY through the “recycling of gravity” that occurs with this kind of “breathing for stability” is the favorite “side benefit” of my students and private clients! So I get the lack of “tiredness” your clients are experiencing.

      Cheers and keep up the good work!


  4. I’ve loved your web-site. I’ve been going to a physical therapist who told me that I didn’t breathe correctly. The only problem was he couldn’t explain how to breathe. I looked on u-tube and finally found a trumpet instructor who could explain all of the incorrect ways and a sure-fix way to tell if you’re breathing correctly. I still struggle because if your low abs are really out of shape they just can’t hold me up for long-term breathing etc. How many months does it take to retrain your diaphragm?
    Also, do you have any exercises for having one leg longer than another?

    • Thanks for the comment Beverly! Could you shoot me the youtube url for the trumpet instructor?

      I had this conversation today with a private client. I said if you could do nothing else for the next 10 days but focus consciously on this functional core breathing, you would have a new pattern set up in your brain and it would be more automatic.

      But alas…the stress of the world and the ego intervenes and produces our chest breathing stress pattern. So it will take longer if you have stress from mindset, movement, and nutrition.

      The less stress you have, the easier it is to maintain the good, low, diaphragmatic pattern.

      Regarding leg length, there’s too many possibilities as to it’s origin to give a specific exercise. Sorry!

      Thanks again for your comment. See you online!

    • This is great starting point for people…thanks Beverly! I still like to see more open shoulders and more attention to paid to breathing into the diaphragm’s connection to the back, or what yoga calls the “back body”.

      BUT then again…I’ve never played the trumpet. Only the trombone in middle school 🙂

  5. Yes, yes, yes! How quickly we forget how important this back breathing is. I really like your quick brace and thumbs test. What a help for me to monitor this! Thank you.

  6. Hi Dr Steve, I have been able to do this since practising baby belly and I use it now when I am playing golf and can play a whole round pain free!

  7. First, good to see you looking better. Thanks for reminding me to practice core breathing. I’ve been struggling with work recently, and have had a chest infection this week – result: the negative internal chatter has taken over. A few rounds of core breathing and I feel far more positive.

    I do music workshops for elderly people in residential care, and as part of this we do core breathing whilst listening to a suitably relaxing and uplifting piece of music, such as Chopin or Mozart. Any tips on how I can maximise the benefit for residents, bearing in mind some are slumped in wheel chairs, or reclined and propped up on cushions. And many think I’m totally bonkers to suggest doing it. Many thanks.

    • Be sure they are all on their sit bones (ischial tuberosities) and have them imagine roots going down and then growing and expanding like a tree. Then they’ll really think your bonkers…but INTENTION is everything.

  8. Thank you Dr Steve,I like your web-site very much and you give out a lot of useful information and tips to help me to keep good prosture and stay verticle.

    I have tried the core stability self test and breathing exercise.I think I can manage to breath with the diaphram down.

    I am a dentist and have neck pain for many years,I am very conscious about posture and health,however it is vey difficult for me to maintain good posture when working.I have tried the micro break exercise but I still feel tightness and soreness and even some pain in my neck.Can you give me some advice that I can do to relief and cure my neck pain?



    • Lots of variables can contribute so I can’t give you a slam dunk. But definitely do the floor angels in the free “Reverse CPS Now!” Video series…well, do all of the exercises in addition to mastering and developing good endurance with the hip hinge and a kegel. Search the site for hip hinge.

      Deep neck flexors likely need work as well and a lot of dentists I see have, ironically, some level of TMJ dysfunction because of all the chin poking while working.

      Consider the course when we re-open it. It will open your eyes to a new way a moving efficiently.

  9. Dr. Steve,

    This was a great reminder and well timed – I was slumping at my desk 😉
    Immediately did the breathing and thumb test and I’m back to sitting properly, and feeling more energized.

    Thanks for sharing all of this wonderful information!

    • You’re welcome, Beth! And it’s been a pleasure and an honor to have you as a student in the coaching course. I’m preparing for Module 12 Q&A now…keep those awesome questions and comments coming! You’ll have lots of new company when we re-open course enrollment!

  10. I find this breathing technique extremely helpful Dr Steve. I sit at a desk all day and need these constant reminders…..thank you, thank you, thank you!!

  11. This was a great tip for breathing deeply. I could really feel it. All I have to do now is to remember to do it a lot more. Thanks!

  12. I feel like I am cheating on this one. Breathing and bracing are pretty much habits anymore. You have managed to grow that seed in me well after all the previous coaching and reminders. No doubt whatsoever that this has helped me avoid the lower back problems I used to have. I do still need to concentrate when I swim laps or other heavy exercise. Thanks again.

  13. What you said was actually very logical. However, what
    about this? what if you wrote a catchier title? I ain’t suggesting your content isn’t good.,
    however what if you added something that grabbed a person’s attention? I mean Core Stability Training Exercise and
    Breathing Exercise | Get To Your Core! is a little plain. You ought to peek at Yahoo’s front
    page and watch how they create news headlines to grab people interested.
    You might add a related video or a related picture or two to grab readers excited about
    what you’ve got to say. In my opinion, it could make your blog a little livelier.

    • Dear “.”,

      Interesting you choose to remain anonymous. Perhaps you realized that rather than appreciating what is being offered you decided to nit-pick.

      Plain of not, this message is health- and life-saving. And it sure as anything grabbed MY attention! BTW among other things I am a professional editor.

  14. Dr. Steve, I appreciate you more than I can say..As a retired senior on a pension I follow a lot of free offerings on-line and it is a great service that you make so much of your information available without charge.
    I played French horn professionally much of my life and thus deep diaphragmatic breathing became second nature. However as I send so much time at the computer nowadays or preparing healthful meals I actually find myself sometimes holding my breath!
    This little video was a BIG reminder and I want to express my gratitude. The thumbs test is brilliant–and of course easy for me, but I need to remember to DO it! Here is my mantrum now: “If you do nothing else for the next 10 days but focus consciously on this functional core breathing, you will have a new pattern set up in your brain and it will be more automatic.”

  15. Thank you for posting this.

    I didn’t quite catch how one braces, but I will try to work on my breathing.

    Thanks again…

Leave a Reply