Breathing is something every person does, every second, of every day. Most don’t realise, however, the power of being aware and actively choosing how to breathe. There is a direct link between breathing and the way their body is feeling and functioning. Your chiro loves to break down the logistics and re-introduce correct methods of breathing into your treatment! Minor adjustments, to the mechanics, could result in monumental benefits.
Spinal stabilisation is crucial for functional movement patterns and preventing backpain and injury. Stabilisation is creating adequate intra-abdominal pressure, comprised of the diaphragm, abdominal wall, spinal extensors and pelvic floor. Insufficient intra-abdominal pressure can result in pelvic and lumbar pain and dysfunction.
The diaphragm flattens and acts against the resistance of the abdominal wall, controlling abdominal pressure. Imagine an empty bottle, where the lid is the diaphragm, the sides of the bottle are the abdominal wall and spinal extensors, and the base is the pelvic floor. Without the lid, the bottle can be compressed easily. This is the difference between chest breathers and belly breathers.
There are several benefits to retraining breathing patterns, such as; improved core stability, relaxation of muscles, release of stress and tension, improved pain management, and improved physical performance outcomes. Try this exercise:
- Start on your back, with your knees bent.
- Place fingers on bottom of lower belly on either side.
- Breathe into belly, inflate your stomach (big belly), creating abdominal pressure.
- As you breathe out through your nose, maintain the abdominal pressure by keeping the belly inflated – Controlling your diaphragm.
- Repeat, take your time.
It may be difficult initially to perform this exercise, so try placing one hand on your chest and one on your stomach, as you breath in, hold the chest down with your hand, emphasizing inflating your stomach. This will help familiarise and engrain the motor pattern.
It is important to perform this exercise with a slow steady rhythm, breathing out slowly. We often call it “the Magic 7”…try 7 seconds in, 7 seconds hold (for the advanced), 7 seconds out and repeat. If dizziness or discomfort is experienced, stop and relax for a few minutes before resuming. Like anything, new patterns take practice to become second nature. Make sure to take time out of your day (5 minutes will do) and see just how good you can feel! For more information or to run through this exercise, simply ask your chiro during your next appointment.