The ability to breathe is obviously important. However, what if I told you that a large portion of the population have dysfunctional breathing patterns? What does this mean? Essentially, a majority of adults happen to breathe with their accessory muscles of respiration, instead of using their main muscle of respiration, the diaphragm. So why do we care about this, what do proper breathing patterns look like, and how can we help you achieve this?

diaphragmatic breathing infographic

What does functional diaphragmatic breathing look like?

Check out the picture above. When we breathe in, our diaphragm should descend into the abdomen creating room in the thorax, allowing the lungs to expand. When this happens, the abdomen is pressurized and the stomach should expand 360 degrees like a balloon. When we breathe like this, this supports the low back, decreasing the load on it. Ever notice how babies and toddlers always have extremely rounded stomachs and not sucked in ones? Well, it’s because they are properly breathing and bracing their core, as this is the cornerstone of all movement! Not until later in life, when thoughts of self-consciousness about our appearance kick in, do we begin to suck in our stomach and then start allowing our chest to excessively rise in order to breathe. We then slowly lose the unconscious and conscious control to diaphragmatically breathe correctly.

Why is Diaphragmatic breathing so important?

Diaphragmatic breathing allows us to create intra-abdominal pressure which is the cornerstone of all movement patterns. Let me put it like this, if you are standing on a canoe and it was floating in open water and you attempted to jump out of it, you wouldn’t go very far would you? That’s because you did not have a stable platform to move from. Our everyday movement from running, to walking, to throwing, to lifting, and kicking all require we have a stable platform, our core, to move from. So breathing properly directly allows us to move, it supports our low back, it prevents breathing with our accessory muscles of respiration which prevents neck tension/pain, and it even prevents acid reflux! 

How do we train this crucial concept?

Here in the clinic, we use dynamic neuromuscular stabilization exercises which are based on development motor programs, to help teach our patients to breathe and brace properly. In simpler terms, we use positions and movements children use as they develop and learn to walk, to help cue and retrain our patients to do something they used to know how to do but just forgot. It usually starts with patients on their backs, with their feet up, and having them expand their stomachs with each breath. It then progresses from there. So don’t be dysfunctional! Come see us and we can help you breathe and move like you were designed to do!

WE CAN HELP:If you feel like you’re having issues like this or something similar, call us today at 260-927-0581 or schedule an appointment online! There is no reason to live in pain. As always, we are here for you at ProActive Spine & Joint.

Move well, live well: that’s what we want for our community and for you.