With stress levels at an all-time high, most suffer from ways to rid the stress in their lives.
Most of us are out of tune with our diaphragm, over-activating accessory breathing muscles while resting. When we should be saving these muscles for times of physical exertion. Unfortunately, many of us do not utilize the diaphragm to its maximal potential when breathing. Reduced diaphragmatic activation elicits a response in the body to engage other compensatory musculature to breathe effectively. These muscles include but are not limited to the upper trapezius, sternocleidomastoid, scalenes, etc.
In a recent article, diaphragmatic breathing has been shown to reduce stress within the body by lowering cortisol levels within the body. It has also been found that less physical load is applied to the accessory breathing musculature by engaging the diaphragm while breathing. Providing some relief to those “stress muscles” that become tight and painful when we have increased stress in our lives.
Diaphragmatic breathing is an exercise that activates, strengthens, and brings awareness to the diaphragm in coordination with the lungs. The diaphragm is the most important muscle used for inspiration and expiration in the body.
So how does one practice diaphragmatic (belly) breathing?
Here is a video to walk you through the steps: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Ua9bOsZTYg&t=184s
Here are the Steps to Diaphragmatic Breathing:
Find a comfortable position, typically lying with a bolster under your knees face up
Close your eyes
Become aware of tightness within the body and try to draw your attention away from that
Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly
Inhale through your nose
Make the hand on your belly move or rise by engaging your diaphragm with your breath
Minimize the amount that your chest moves or rises with breathing
Exhale through your mouth
Continue to breathe in and out several times to find a relaxing pace
Try to practice several times a day
3 Key Elements to Be Mindful of While Breathing:
Breathe through your belly.
Try not to get frustrated if you cannot perform this at first (most of us do not know how to do this).
Try to incorporate belly breathing into your daily activities.
To reduce the stress from our daily activities, get back in tune with your diaphragm and try belly breathing today! If you are interested and don’t know where to start, make an appointment with one of our fantastic clinicians!
Jivan Sharma. Diaphragmatic Breathing Technique. Available from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Ua9bOsZTYg [last accessed 1/18/2022]
Ma, X., Yue, Z.-Q., Gong, Z.-Q., Zhang, H., Duan, N.-Y., Shi, Y.-T., Wei, G.-X., & Li, Y.-F. (2017, June 6). The effect of diaphragmatic breathing on attention, negative affect and stress in healthy adults. Frontiers. Retrieved January 18, 2022, from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00874/full
Nelson, N. (2012). Diaphragmatic breathing. Strength & Conditioning Journal, 34(5), 34–40. https://doi.org/10.1519/ssc.0b013e31826ddc07
by Brad Phillips, DC | March 24th, 2022 | Montana Team Chiropractic