Although chiropractic, massage and acupuncture don’t necessarily look to aid how someone breathes, breathing directly affects everything that we do and how we recover. Breathing is a powerful thing – first you have to do it, or you’re dead. Second – it can be incredibly useful in mindfulness, meditation and yoga. And third (which is what we focus on as providers) – it has a direct impact on the body’s movement patterns, core stabilization and muscle activation.
“IF breathing is not normalized, no other movement pattern can be” Lewitt, 1980
The diaphragm is not only responsible for keeping you alive but it plays a role in stabilization along with your other core muscles such as the transverse abdominis ( The “TA”). The diaphragm and proper use of this muscle promotes ideal “intra abdominal pressure” which basically means that you have created the best possible support for your spine and pelvis that can help prevent injury. In this way, the diaphragm acts as a stabilizer during movement.
Sometimes referred to as the umbrella muscle, the diaphragm flattens (umbrella opens); this decreases abdominal space and increase intra-abominal pressure (IAP) which results in a “stronger core”. This intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) along with the other core muscles such as the transverse abdominis (the TA) protect your spine and help prevent injury.
When we look at assessing a patient’s breathing, we first look at where the majority of movement happens when they breathe – is it in the chest or is it in the belly? Does it look like the belly is just going up and down or is the movement 360 degrees all the way around the ribs?
Do the ribs and therefore the shoulders raise up to the ears? Does the rib cage “flare” up and out or is there smooth expansion of the ribs in 360 degrees? Does one side of the abdomen expand more than the other?
This is some of the things we are looking at when we are assessing your breathing pattern and when we are giving you cues to try and improve your breathing, and the use of your diaphragm.
This is where we start our rehab with most patients. Ensuring that you are using your diaphragm appropriately helps to create the dynamic stability that allows you to move and be active pain free.
At breathe, our goal is to get our patients back to doing what they want to be doing and reaching their next goal, whether that’s playing hockey or walking your dog pain free – no goal is too big or too small.