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Mastering the Art of Breathing - Why Correct Breathing Techniques are crucial in scuba diving?

Scuba diving is an exciting and adventurous activity but requires proper training and techniques to ensure safety and comfort underwater. One crucial aspect of scuba diving is breathing, and it is essential to understand how to breathe correctly during diving. By utilising appropriate breathing techniques, you can extend your air supply, resulting in longer dives. That is just one example of the many benefits, so read on to find out more!

scuba diver performing safety skill

What is the diaphragm?

The diaphragm is the most efficient muscle for breathing. It is a large, dome-shaped muscle located at the base of your lungs. Your abdominal muscles help move the diaphragm and give you more power to empty your lungs.

What is diaphragmatic breathing?

Diaphragmatic breathing helps you use your diaphragm correctly while breathing to:

  • Strengthen the diaphragm.

  • Decrease the work of breathing by slowing your breathing rate.

  • Decrease oxygen demand.

  • Use less effort and energy to breathe.

The traditional way of breathing is shallow; we use our chest muscles to inhale and exhale air. When you breathe normally, you're not using your lungs to their full capacity. However, when scuba diving, we should use a different technique that involves using our diaphragm to bring the air into the lower third of the lungs. It means you inhale using your abdominal muscles, which results in using your lungs at 100% capacity.

This technique allows for a greater exchange of gases, making it more efficient and reducing the need for large volumes of air. Not only does this technique save air in our tanks, but it also has added benefits for our overall well-being.

Psychologists have discovered that this scuba diving breathing technique is also beneficial for patients suffering from anxiety. It helps to lower the heart rate and stimulate relaxation, making it an excellent tool for divers to reduce stress levels underwater.

Many new divers struggle to descend due to initial anxiety, which prevents them from appropriately expelling air from their lungs. Rather than teaching proper breathing techniques, many instructors overweight their students as a "solution". Not only does it make diving difficult and uncomfortable, but it also poses a huge safety risk.

Diaphragmatic breathing is a skill every diver should master when scuba diving, as it's interconnected with other core skills such as propulsion, trim, and buoyancy control. If one of these skills is off, it will affect the others, making it challenging to maintain proper body position and control of movement in the water. Slow and controlled breathing is crucial for longer and more enjoyable dives.

Understanding and using the correct breathing technique while scuba diving is essential: for safety, comfort, and enjoyment underwater. By using the diaphragm to breathe more efficiently and control our breathing, we can save air, reduce stress, and have control of our buoyancy. Develop the habit of regularly practising your breathing technique while scuba diving, and you'll see how much of a positive impact it has on your diving experience.

Buoyancy control - use your lungs, not your BCD!

The primary tool for adjusting buoyancy during a dive is our lungs. (Well, only if we are not overweight with lead, which is another topic we will cover soon in the next blog post). Taking deep breaths will affect buoyancy upward, and exhaling will affect it downward. The air in our BCD is there to counter the weight of our equipment at a specific depth. Ideally, we should descend with an empty BCD to our maximum depth, add air to achieve neutral buoyancy with a "normal breath" in our lungs, and then control our buoyancy motion exclusively with our breathing.

Mastering the art of controlling your vertical positioning in the water column using only your breathing requires specific techniques. These techniques are simple to understand, and with a bit of practice, you can easily become proficient in using them. By dedicating time to improve your breathing, you'll be able to effortlessly control your buoyancy during dives, making your diving experience smoother and more enjoyable.

Improve your breathing techniques with us!

Check out our personalised private workshops. We cover various topics, including breathing techniques, to help you take diving to the next level. For more information and to book your private session, visit the FUNDAMENTALS WORKSHOP section on our website.



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