Breathing Correctly is Important, but it is Often Overlooked

Do you feel stuck in your recovery? Are things not progressing as fast as you’d like them to? One thing that might progress your recovery further is working on proper breathing techniques.

Many People Breathe Incorrectly

Many of us breathe in a shallow pattern. We use too many of our neck muscles to do the work. Our shoulders move up and down as we take a breath in and out. Taking shallow breaths can be especially common when pain is present. It may feel difficult or painful to take a deep breath because of back, neck, rib, abdominal, or pelvic pain or tightness. This shallow pattern does not allow our diaphragm to work properly.

The Diaphragm is a Very Important Core Muscle

Our core is like a soda can. The top of our can is the diaphragm, the bottom is the pelvic floor, and the sides are our deep stabilizing abdominal and back muscles. When all 4 of these areas are working well together, it’s like an unopened soda can. It’s hard to crush. When any of these 4 areas are weak or do not function properly (like the diaphragm), it’s like opening that soda can. An open soda can is much easier to crush. With a flimsy, opened soda can as your core, you are more likely to get injured or have longer healing times.

Correct Breathing Patterns Have Many Benefits

  1. Breathing helps regulate our intra-abdominal pressure. Proper breathing techniques can help prevent problems caused by poor regulation of intra-abdominal pressure, such as hernias, incontinence, prolapse, diastasis recti (gap in the abs postpartum), and back pain.
  2. Taking deep breaths increases our oxygen intake, which promotes healing and tissue repair.
  3. Proper deep breathing techniques can calm our flight or fight response and decrease stress hormones.
  4. Taking deep breaths can help relieve tension in muscles in your hip, back, and pelvic floor. It can also decrease neck, low back, or SI joint pain.
  5. It can naturally resolve a diastasis recti and pelvic floor issues by encouraging natural movement of these areas.

Breathing and the Pelvic Floor

The diaphragm moves together with the pelvic floor. When you breathe in, your diaphragm and pelvic floor both move down. As you breathe out, your diaphragm and pelvic floor move up. Thus, breathing is one of the first and most important things to work on with any woman postpartum or any person with pelvic floor issues. Taking shallow breaths places extra pressure on your pelvic floor, abs, and back. If you have weakness in your pelvic floor muscles, that extra downward pressure can contribute to incontinence or prolapse. These incorrect patterns can also lead to delayed healing of your pelvic floor muscles and diastasis recti postpartum.

360 Breathing

360 Breathing is a technique that is great for almost everyone to work on. This deep breathing technique encourages movement of your entire diaphragm. It decreases pressure on your abs, back, and pelvic floor and can help relax tightness in your back, ribs, pelvic floor, and neck. This should be practiced throughout the day, as well as while you are exercising. Check out the video below!

Using 360 Breathing during different stretches or positions can be helpful to target specific painful areas. Here are 3 examples of using it to target back pain, pelvic pain, and rib pain.

Child’s Pose + 360 Breathing for Back Pain

90/90 360 Breathing for Pelvic Pain

Sidelying 360 Breathing for Rib Pain

See a Physical Therapist to Further Address Your Breathing

If you are having difficulty working on deep breathing or something feels stuck or tight as you are trying these techniques, come see us. Things like rib flare, posture, or muscle tightness or weakness can cause difficulty with correct breathing patterns. Through physical therapy we can address these things, improve your breathing patterns, and get your recovery moving forward.

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