Diaphragmatic Breathing; What is it and Why is it Important?
Let’s discuss your Diaphragm today! What it is and WHY you need to understand it’s value!
What is your Diaphragm?
Your diaphragm is a large dome shaped muscle that is located under your lungs, right at the bottom of your rib cage sitting at the top of your abdomen. It is the PRIMARY muscle that supports breathing. PRIMARY! If you are reading this right now and you do not know what your diaphragm is; think of what you have been missing with your breathing up until now.
Your diaphragm contracts continually as you breathe in and out and that is an average of 20,000 to 25,000 times a day. Woozers!
Why is diaphragmatic breathing important?
Breathing through your diaphragm is important because it plays a crucial role in your daily breathing. As mentioned above you take MANY breaths in a day and by golly if you are not aware of how to breathe through this that may start to cause some concern for you my friend. Breathing properly through your diaphragm helps regulate normal bodily functions, such as your pelvic floor, and it reinforces proper functional movement. Breathing properly puts less stress on your body and bodily systems.
Is diaphragmatic breathing normal?
YES! Our bodies were designed this way. It encourages full oxygen exchange throughout your body eliminating toxins. If you look at a baby, or a young child you will see how they breathe through their diaphragm; you will see their abdomen expand on the inhale, and tighten on the exhale so….naturally! Unfortunately, as society has evolved, we have become more sedentary, more stressed and this has resulted in improper shallow chest breathing. We have also evolved into a the poor practice of ‘sucking in’ our stomach to give the illusion of a smaller waistline which makes us breathe incorrectly. This puts your already stressed body into a constant state of heightened stress which creates tension while altering your patterns of everyday functional movement, usually resulting in pain.
Getting back in touch with your diaphragm could eleminate so many pain points for you.
What are the benefits of diaphragmatic breathing during pregnancy & postpartum?
Breathing through your diaphragm is essential no matter what stage of life you are in, male or female. However for women that become pregnant understanding proper diaphragmatic breathing is of high importance. It will help strengthen your deep core muscles from your pelvic floor up, decrease low-back pain and support with proper pushing during labor and birth.
Proper diaphragmactic breathing will also decrease the chance of abdominal separation by providing control within the core. It also creates space for your baby in the abdoman while continuing to maintain strength deep within your innermost core muscles, the transversus abdominus.
Breathing properly will support the pregnant mother in the push phase of labor. It will calm her during contractions and all her to stay in a calmer state.
During postpartum it increases healing time for your core and pelvic floor. Deep breathing also reduces stress for the new mother as she adjusts to her new role of motherhood.
Understanding how to breathe properly through your diaphragm will create a sense of calm, reduce stress, anxiety and even lower your blood pressure during pregnancy and postpartum.
Breathing this way is the BEST abdominal exercise you can do up too 25,000 times a day. It supports your core stability, improves your fitness routine, supports you during labor and birth and will increase the oxygen exchange in your body which eliminates toxins. I mean all in all a win win!
To get started practice whenever you have a moment to think about it, sitting in a chair, taking a walk, laying in bed or using the bathroom.
BONUS: How to Breathe through your Diaphragm
On your inhale (place hands on your upper rib-cage if you can) expand laterally and down through your pelvic floor. On the exhale your pelvic floor with tighten along with the rest of your core from the bottom up; this is not a contraction but like a gentle wave; it’s just breathing! The more you practice the more your body will choose this over time.
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