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.