There are many breathing methods out there - belly breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, box breathing, purse lipped breathing, humming, and many more. At Joint Effort, we primarily use Buteyko Breathing. This breathing method focuses on a full exhale and extending the pause after the exhale.
As Postural Restoration therapists, we believe that our diaphragm is a major contributing factor to our musculoskeletal issues. Our diaphragm influences our spinal posture, particularly our upper cervical, ribcage, and pelvis position. We use various movement tests to determine the resting position of these structures. Almost all of the time, the diaphragm becomes stuck on one side or both sides of the body and we become "hyper-inflated." In order to reduce this "over-inhalation" bias, we need to work on prolonged
exhaling to help to release the diaphragm, activate our obliques, and reposition our ribcage, pelvis, and neck.
The picture shows something called Zone Of Apposition. Our body should spend time in both Optimal and Sub-Optimal ZOA. Think of Optimal as "exhalation" and Sub-Optimal as "inhalation." Belly breathing and inhale-dominant diaphragmatic breathing (commonly used with musicians and singers) promotes more Sub-Optimal ZOA. Spending too much time here can lead to issues such as shoulder impingement, neck/upper trap pain, sciatica/back pain, hip bursitis/tendinitis, IT Band syndrome, piriformis syndrome, knee pain, and plantar fasciitis!
Think about this. If you have back pain and flexion feels better than extension, but you can't breathe as well in flexion, will you ever naturally move into flexion? Not much. Your brain wants your body in the positions that it can breathe the best. But, by improving your ability to exhale, pause in that position and help the body breathe better in flexion, you will create more automatic and natural movement options in your daily life.
Let's practice. Sit in chair with both feet flat on the floor. Slightly tip your pelvis back and bring your lower ribs down. Now, take a normal inhale through your nose. Exhale through your mouth fully - past your comfort zone. Did you feel your ribs move down more? Now PAUSE and count to 5 slowly without inhaling. WITHOUT lifting your ribs, slowly inhale through your nose. Could you do it? If you did this correctly, you should have felt slight difficulty inhaling and you should not have been able to take a full breath of air. If this felt easy, you were using your accessory muscles - your neck muscles, traps, or back muscles.
If you haven't been able to find any answers to your musculoskeletal issues, the diaphragm could be your problem. To learn more about Postural Restoration and the unique treatment approach we do at Joint Effort, CLICK HERE.
Action of the diaphragm on the rib cage. Journal of Applied Physiology https://journals.physiology.org/doi/pdf/10.1152/japplphysiol.00268.2016#:~:text=The%20region%20where%20they%20are,muscle%20(28%2C%2051).
THE IMPORTANCE OF BREATHING EXERCISES FOR FITNESS AND HEALTH Ana Ristovski1 , Vladimir Mrdaković1 , PhD