Diaphragmatic Breathing

Breathing is one of our most foundational, involuntary functions and it happens without us realising.

It happens on purpose all the time, yet have you ever thought there may be a “right way” to breathe? Well, there is; and using it for recovery, stress-relief, rehabilitation and exercise in general, has the potential to change a lot for your body.

What is diaphragmatic breathing?
Diaphragmatic breathing, sometimes referred to as “belly breathing”, is the natural use of the diaphragm to support the flow of air in and out of the lungs. Unfortunately, when we are stressed, under pressure or exercising, our body may use other parts of our trunk to help get more air in. This can mean tension for the neck, chest and even back muscles.

What are the benefits of diaphragmatic breathing?
Being able to focus on breathing from our belly, minimises stress on other areas which are not meant to be used as frequently. It can reduce stress, tension and help lower pressure building up in the tummy (sometimes the cause of hernias!). It is also commonly used in pilates and yoga, as well as a relaxation technique (when we are tense).

How does it work?
The best way to practise diaphragmatic breathing is to place one hand on your chest, the other on your tummy. Feel the natural rise and fall, and try to have the majority of that movement from your belly. When exercising or lifting something heavy, decreasing the pressure in your abdomen is essential. Take a big deep belly-breath in, and release on effort. Exhale on effort. This allows your muscles to be used properly, and prevents pressure build up. It also reminds you to breathe frequently, and more oxygen for your body to benefit from.

Are you breathing correctly? It’s definitely something to think about the next time your exercising or aiming to rehabilitate after injury.

Suzanne graduated from Western Sydney University with a Bachelor of Health Science (Sports and Exercise Science) in 2015. She then went on to continue her studies at Macquarie University graduating from the Doctor of Physiotherapy post-graduate degree in June 2019.

Since graduating, Suzanne has worked in the local Penrith area in both private practice and Sports Physiotherapy. Suzanne has worked with sporting teams including Penrith District Netball Association, Mt Druitt Rangers (NPL), Penrith Valley Figure Skating Club, and local dance and cheer schools. 

Suzanne has a particular interest in working with artistic athletes including cheerleaders and dancers. She has a professional background in both cheer and dance and has previously worked as both a cheer coach and dance teacher. Suzanne’s previous experiences are an invaluable resource to her as a physiotherapist, as she has a thorough understanding of the level of physical fitness and skill acquisition that these athletes must have in order to be successful on stage and in competition.

Suzanne’s other areas of clinical interest reside in lower limb musculoskeletal injuries, spinal pathologies and women’s health.

Nathanial graduated as a physiotherapist in 2012 which saw him work in private practice and hospital settings gaining experience in all areas of physiotherapy including hand therapy, splinting/casting, pre/post-operative care, Men’s Health and general musculoskeletal, occupational and sports physiotherapy. Since then he has gone on to complete further studies in physiotherapy enabling him to be the only dual titled Musculoskeletal, Sports and Exercise Physiotherapist in Penrith.

Nathanial has a strong background in sports physiotherapy achieving accreditation with NSWIS as a service provider and working with many elite sports teams.

Nathanial has a particular interest in working with elite athletes, complex cases and in particular assessment and management of knee, hip and shoulder pain.

Andrea graduated from the Australian Catholic University completing her Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science in 2018 and Master’s of Clinical Exercise Physiology in 2020. After graduating she attained accreditation with ESSA as an Exercise Physiologist.

During her studies she gained clinical experience in both hospital and private practice settings, working in the cardiac rehabilitation program, heart failure service and mental health unit at Nepean Hospital. And at the ACU Exercise and Lifestyle Clinic working with clients with neurological conditions, cancer and chronic musculoskeletal injuries.

Since graduating, Andrea enjoys working with a variety of clients. She has a particular interest in treating musculoskeletal injuries and neurological conditions, striving to help people increase their functional capacity to get them back to work, sport or the things they love doing.