The what, why & how of diaphragm breathing

The importance of correct breathing both during exercise and during our daily lives is often underestimated. More often then not, people present breathing in incorrect patterns that can be impeding on their progress.

What is it?

Patients have a tendency to keep their abdominals sucked in tight to make it look smaller, however, this forces them to take shallow breathes high in their chest. This style of breathing is called chest breathing. Lifestyle factors such as stress, sedentary jobs and poor posture also contribute to chest breathing.

What we encourage is belly breathing. Belly breathing can also be referred to as deep breathing or Diaphragm breathing, mechanically speaking this is the most relaxed and natural way to breath for optimal output.  Diaphragm breathing involves inhaling so the belly rises and the diaphragm descends down causing the pelvic floor to ascend slightly; then on exhale the belly falls and the diaphragm and pelvic floor return.

Why is it important?

The problem with chest breathing is the air only reaches the upper portion of the lungs. Over time this type of breathing can lead to neck and shoulder pain, headaches, back pain, overactivity of our deeper core muscles and other associated concerns.

Diaphragm breathing has such a significant role in performance, recovery and injury prevention. Studies have also shown that proper diaphragm movement and deep breathing can help reduce and manage lower back pain.

How do you do it?

The best way to start practising diaphragm breathing is lying on your back or in sitting so you can see your belly rise and floor. Breathe through your nose slowly like your smelling roses, think about getting the air deep into your lungs expanding your lower ribs and letting your belly rise. You can tie a band around your stomach for extra feedback during the rise and fall of the belly.

You can then make it harder by doing it during small movements like standing from a chair, making sure you always breathe out on the effort.

Start trying to include diaphragm belly breathing into your daily routine. Happy breathing!

Share this article