Better Breathing Buy-in: Educating Clients in 4 Easy Steps

I get a lot of questions from fam such as yourself, wondering: “Zac, you do some weird, wild and crazy things. How do you get buy-in with someone who has an issue that is seemingly unrelated to do the things that you want them to do?”

Maybe they’re seeing you for wrist pain. Why the heck would I be breathing if my wrist hurts? Or maybe they’re squatting. Why would filling my upper back up help me squat more effectively?

I have both had many successes and failures explaining what I am doing. Through these trials and tribulations, I’ve broken down education into a four step process with one concept in mind: the outcome.

Below, I break down what those four steps are, and how you can implement this strategy into your practice.

Enjoy the video, audio, and modified transcripts, as well as the links I mention in the talk.

The Outcome

We are not focused on the outcome that we want as movement practitioners, but the outcome that the client wants.

The client wants his or her wrist to feel better. They want to squat so they can get that badonkadonk like Big Z. And it is big, don’t get it twisted.

I had the second largest glute circumference out of my entire class in PT school. That’s counting men and women. You can’t mess with this.

The outcome is what we always have to keep in mind when are educating our people.

Thoroughly understanding what outcome they want occurs by listening to them. Hearing their story. Hearing their concerns and what their barriers are. This is all incredibly important because it builds that rapport and connection, establishes trust with the person you’re working with; a huge step in attaining buy-in.

With the outcome in mind, here is how we can educate our people to let them know that the stuff that we’re doing, while seemingly unrelated, is critical to helping them meet whatever outcome they desire.

Step 1: Set the Stage

I have a friend of mine. She’s a dear friend. She’s all about setting expectations. You want to let people know what they’re getting into from the outset. No surprises.

I never want to see this look during a movement consultation…nor do I want a kid for that matter

Usually, after a patient or a client has told me their goals, I assimilate them into the back of my head. Because throughout the whole educational process, I’m going to be peppering my story with that goal.

My rap might start off like this:

“Thank you so much for answering all my questions and telling me about why you’re here. That’s incredibly helpful for me because it allows me to make more informed decisions.”

I’m thanking them for playing an active role in this process.

“Here’s what we’re going to do today. I’m going to take a look at just about everything on you.”

I’ve set the stage. They’re going to get a very thorough evaluation. It’s at this point where you can link the complaint to contributing factors.

“Your whole body moves as a cohesive unit and works together.”

People understand this because I think we’ve all been in pain and know that we compensate.

“A lot of times what can happen, in order to manage the stressors that you undergo both within your body and in the environment.”

I use “stress” very loosely, and I make sure I tell people that because I don’t want to convey that people are stressed out and that’s the problem (even though it probably is). I’ll say things like a stressor could be the the mechanism of injury that the client had, or not sleeping well one night. Or a loss of movement could be a stressor.

Where is the “oh my shit” part on this gauge?

“In order to manage those stressors, your body may utilize protective strategies, such as reducing movement in particular areas.”

This is how we can illustrate to our people why movement limitations happen. And this reigns true in pain or with our squatting example. Squatting might be challenging because the body has to work in a certain fashion. If unable to coordinate that, the body may take the path of least resistance to make that movement happen. A lot of times this can result in movement limitations.

“Movement limitations can increase pressure and strain in particular areas.”

If you’re in pain, maybe these limitations increase the amount of load on the wrist with opening doors. Now I linked the limitations with the problem.

For squatting, movement limitations occur to make the squat easier, but they limit depth.   There will be an example boom I just linked it to the outcome.

“We are going to focus on restoring those movement limitations. The hope would be that doing so will even out the workload distribution throughout your body, which can help with pain, improving limited tasks, or enhance fitness. Do you have any questions before we get started?”

That’s how I will end the talk. Usually most people are nodding along because most understand that we compensate when we’re hurting or when we can’t move. If one part of you is working overtime, then that probably means another place is under working. No one likes to work two jobs at once.

Step 2: Show How the Movement Limitations They Have Relate to their Outcome.

You’ve done a thorough assessment. You have a picture of where they can and can’t move.

Your job now is to show how these movement limitations are related to the main problem that they’re seeing you for.

If it’s your wrist pain person. What I may say is:

“Your wrist checks out great. So does your elbow! What I think is happening now is your shoulder doesn’t really move so well, and that can be related to how well you can move air into your upper trunk. So what may happen is because this area is not moving effectively, your wrist may uptake more stress when doing the activities which are problematic. That extra workload may be a contributing factor to your pain. If we can improve your mobility, that may even out the workload distribution, reducing stress and helping with pain.”

Another great example is when someone’s knee hurts when they walk. If they lack hip extension, the hip may move more forward, increasing stress on the knee. Loosening up the hips could reverse this.

Yikes, what a lineup

In our squat example:

“You may not be able to squat to full depth because the curve in your lower back is a bit deep secondary to a rib cage strategy that you are utilizing. It’s harder for you to close the frontside of the body down. So what happens is as you descend down into a squat, you hit end-range much sooner, as some roundedness is required to go full depth.”

Whether that’s pain or performance, you can see the common trend that I try to relate my findings to their goals. Improving these findings may lead to better movement capabilities, which ought to allow you to go back to the task at hand. In the pain case, because of reduced stress, in the movement case, because of greater options.

Relate back to the outcome as much as possible.

Step 3: Show how Breathing Can Influence These Limitations

After I’ve asked if they have any questions about my spiel, I say:

“we’re going to start with an exercise focused around breathing. Your whole body is involved every time you breathe in and breathe out, and it’s an easy way to impact how your body moves”

In the wrist pain case:

“You need a sturdy foundation for your arm to do all the wild and crazy things that needs to do. Since your arms and your legs are attached to the trunk, which is involved big time in breathing, we can utilize a particular breathing strategy to set a solid foundation for us to do the things we need to do with our arms.”

In the case of our squatter:

“If we can have you effectively get the air out of the front, you’ll be able to squat lower because you’ll be able to bend in a way that we need you to.”

Readily admit that this is going to be a little strange. Because they’re probably wondering how breathing will help their pain. It’s an easy sell when it’s a shoulder because most of your shoulder muscles attach to your ribcage. It’s also easy for lower back pain, since the diaphragm attaches to the lower back. So to in the pelvis, since the goods are pushed downward with each breath cycle, impacting the pelvic floor.  All of those are easy sells.

“I get that this is very strange. But if we can get you to do this effectively, I think you will see some pretty remarkable changes in some of the areas that I showed you were limited, especially once we start incorporating things with the arms in the legs.”

This is how you can bridge the gap from someone who has a distal complaint or someone who has a hard time rowing, reaching, or squatting.

Step 4: Execute

You’ve set the stage. You’ve shown how these limitations relate to the outcome that they want. You’ve educated them on how breathing can potentially impact their issues.

Now you’ve got to deliver.

No signature required

Execution involves expert level coaching with the task at hand; focusing predominantly on whatever is most important to reaching the client’s specific outcome. As movement professionals, that’s making sure that the breathing mechanics are immaculate: get as much air out as possible, pause, and keep abdominal tension during the inhale. That’s going to set the stage for allowing multidirectional expansion of the thorax the abdomen and the pelvis.

If we have the aforementioned breathing strategy and then we place the body in positions that it struggles to achieve,  we ought to be in bidness.

If you want to up your coaching game, you’ll want to sign up for my newlsetter and listen to some of my breathing talks.

The talks however, are no substitute for in-person coaching. That’s where my seminar, Human Matrix, comes in.

Sum Up

To summarize.

  1. Set the stage. Let them know what they’re getting into. Let them know how this comprehensive evaluation that we’re going to perform will help them get their outcome.
  2. Show how the limitations that they have relate to their complaint. The limitations we’ve found may contribute to your complaint. If we can get you to improve upon these limitations, I think you’ll be able to reach your goals more effectively.
  3. Show how breathing can influence these limitations. Your whole body is involved every time you breathe in and breathe out. Executing effective breathing can place air into restricted areas, improving mobility. This sets the foundation for the arms and legs to act to go into posiitions they cannot achieve.
  4. Execute. Make sure you are coaching the stuff that you are trying to do with your clients in the most effective manner possible.

How do you get buy in for your interventions? Comment below and let the fam know!