Take deep breath. Does your chest rise and shoulders lift a bit? The answer is probably yes. Did you know that this kind of breathing can actually contribute to things like anxiety, stress, neck pain, headaches, low back pain, and poor posture? Today we are discussing the amazing benefits to diaphragmatic breathing otherwise known as belly breathing.
Breath is a main focus in many areas. Yoga and meditation practice, karate masters, and even birthing classes all teach specific breathing techniques. Our breath and emotions have a direct relationship. In fact, our mind and body connection is often through our breath and this strong connection can be used to our advantage. One example is the diaphragmatic breathing technique. The diaphragm is a dome shaped muscle that sits beneath the rib cage and helps separates the chest and the abdomen. On inhale the diaphragm contracts and flattens allowing the lungs to expand downwards. On exhale the diaphragm relaxes and pushes back up releasing air from the lungs. Proper function of the diaphragm allows for optimal visceral mobility, greater lung capacity, greater core activation, and plays an important role in care and lumbar spine stability. As we age it is more and more common to breathe with the chest instead of the diaphragm, which is commonly referred to as "chest breathing." Chest breathing is problematic because it makes us take more breaths than we actually need to get the same amount of oxygen. This leads to over-breathing, reduced oxygen levels, muscle fatigue and a sense of anxiety or stress.
Benefits of diaphragmatic breathing include:
Stress and Anxiety management
Increases lung capacity
Increases oxygen levels to brain and body
Lowers stress hormones
Improves posture and core stability
Lowers blood pressure
Helps relax respiratory muscles of the neck and chest
How to perform: Lay down in a comfortable position with a small pillow below your neck and knees. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. From here breathe in slowly and expand your belly as you inhale keeping the top hand as still as possible. Then exhale slowly and contract your core muscles to allow your bottom hand to lower as you draw your belly button to your spine. The more you practice, the easier it will become. Just remember the belly extends out on inhale and contracts in on exhale and the chest should be still. Set a timer between 5-15 minutes and see how you feel!
From the desk of Dr. Lisette Miller Kondrad. Dr. Miller is a licensed Chiropractic Physician and Board Certified Acupuncture Provider who has been in clinical practice for over 7 years. She has helped hundreds of patients through chiropractic care and acupuncture. Click here to contact Clark Road Chiropractic Center with any questions or to schedule your appointment!