Choose Your Diaphragm

Have you ever looked at a baby and watched them breathe? They don’t raise their chest up and down over and over again. It’s their tiny little bellies that move the most. They use their diaphragm! If we are born using our diaphragm why is it that so many of us struggle to use it on a daily basis? 

One of the big reasons is because of our awful posture. While you are sitting there slouched over reading this post on a computer or on your phone try to take a deep breath through your stomach. I bet it's difficult and you feel as if you get stuck in the process. Now sit up tall shoulders back and try to do the same thing expanding your stomach outward while inhaling. Easier right? Who knew posture has an influence on so many things. Another we fail to use it is due to the fact that expanding your stomach while breathing isn’t aesthetically pleasing to the eye. 

The pitfalls of poor diaphragm control and lack of diaphragm breathing include: decreased core stability, increased use of accessory breathing muscles, and decreased oxygen intake. The core is built like a cylinder with the diaphragm being the top, the abdominal muscles and back being the sides, and the pelvic floor being the bottom. If one isn’t functioning properly or non existent then the structure fails and therefore you lose stability. If you find yourself holding your breath while working out it is probably due to poor diaphragm control. We then start using our accessory neck muscles to raise our chest upwards in order to increase the lung capacity a little more especially when exercising. The problem here is that those accessory muscles are close to many different arteries and nerves that may get impinged if there is hypertrophy or swelling of the muscles due to overuse. The other issue is that there is limited space at the top of the rib cage for expansion. However, down by our diaphragm it is easier to expand downwards increasing lung volume and therefore increasing oxygen. Last I checked more oxygen is good for us. 

See comment for how to help this!

Dr. Alan Broering D.C., CCSP® 

Eat Well. Move Well. Live Well.

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American Chiropractic Association
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