My mobile massage in Chiswick, London practice has led me to discover that scores of people need help to breathe properly. This may come as a surprise to many since we usually breathe effortlessly without much thought about it. But after discussing today’s topic, you will see what I mean. Below are basic facts to help you understand what breathing with your diaphragm means.
As we grow older, the majority of us use a less efficient breathing pattern called chest breathing
Other names for breathing with your diaphragm are diaphragmatic breathing, belly breathing or abdominal breathing. In the layman’s language, this breathing pattern is simply referred to as deep breathing. In infancy, healthy children naturally breathe through diaphragm breathing, but many adults don’t. This has health implications and hence the need to ‘relearn’ the technique and reap the scientifically proven benefits that go with it. As they grow older, the majority of people use a less efficient breathing pattern called chest breathing.
Diaphragm breathing versus chest breathing
Chest breathing mostly involves the use of the upper parts of the lungs and the rib muscles. There is minimal use of the abdominal muscles. This results in shallow and quick breathing. This inadequate intake of air leads to relatively low blood oxygenation. This further leads to quick fatigue and breathlessness during physically exerting activities.
On the other hand, breathing with your diaphragm supports the use of your whole lung for breathing and not just the upper lobes. This leads to more air volume intake and enhanced blood oxygenation. One study published in the Brazilian Journal of Physical Therapy indicated that the technique immediately improved oxygen levels in the blood for both the healthy and respiratory compromised subjects. Diaphragm breathing is deep and slower and provides better endurance during exerting physical tasks. In addition to this, there is enhanced waste disposal from the blood. But these are not the only benefits.
More benefits of diaphragmatic breathing
With this basic information on breathing through your diaphragm, I can now tell you the specific benefits associated with it. However, since many adults are chest breathers, you will need to know how to train the right muscles so that you do it right. I do muscle activation training techniques in Chiswick and its surroundings. Once you master this technique, the right muscles for diaphragmatic breathing will be strengthened and balanced and you will enjoy the following health benefits.
Healthy diaphragm also means healthy psoas muscles and good posture
- Improved lymph drainage. Belly breathing actively moves abdominal organs. These, in turn, provide a kind of lymph massage that promotes better lymph drainage. This hastens the toxic waste elimination from the body.
- Improved breathing and gaseous exchange. Oxygenation utilisation in your body is improved, and the removal of carbon dioxide is enhanced. This leads to better metabolism at the cellular level and more energy production.
- Your body will suffer from fewer effects of free radicals. One study found that people who practised diaphragmatic breathing showed lower levels of cortisol in comparison to others who did not. High levels of the hormone go with high freely circulating free radicals. Cortisol is also associated with stress, and so it means when its level is within the normal range, you will enjoy a better sense of wellbeing.
- Abdominal breathing gently massages the vagus nerve. This, in turn, helps to control the activity of the heart better. Blood pressure and pulse go down resulting in a calm and controlled state.
- May prevent or delay the age-related decline in your cognitive ability. A study looking into this was published in the Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience of 22 April 2014
- Diaphragmatic breathing helps you to maintain a healthy posture. This follows relaxed neck muscles. This also happens due to the anatomical and functional communication between the diaphragm and the psoas muscle (the major muscle needed in walking). The two are connected to the spine by tendons called the crura. This means that a healthy diaphragm also means healthy psoas muscles and good posture and lower incidence of back issues such as lower back pain.
This is only a brief outline of the importance of breathing through your diaphragm. For muscle activation technique massage in Chiswick, please contact me for an appointment. I will train you on how to improve your diaphragm muscles and overall health.
Shields, 1992Castro M. Control of breathing. In: Physiology, Berne RM, Levy MN (editors), 4-th edition, Mosby, St. Louis, 1998.
Cancelliero-Gaiad KM, Ike D, Pantoni CBF, Borghi-Silva A, Costa D. Respiratory pattern of diaphragmatic breathing and Pilates breathing in COPD subjects. Brazilian Journal of Physical Therapy. 2014;18(4):291-299. doi:10.1590/bjpt-rbf.2014.0042.
Martarelli D, Cocchioni M, Scuri S, Pompei P. Diaphragmatic Breathing Reduces Exercise-Induced Oxidative Stress. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM. 2011;2011:932430. doi:10.1093/ecam/nep169.
Pirompol, T. Thanarojwanich, K. Kiettitarai, P. Phansathitwong et. al. ( 2015) Acute-Term Effects In Lowering Blood Pressure After Diaphragmatic Breathing And Slow Breathing In Treated Hypertensive Patients. WCPT Congress 2015 / Physiotherapy 2015; Volume 101, Supplement 1 eS1215
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