Happy New Year! Now that the festivities have ended, you might be left feeling like you finally have the time to breathe again. You might have resolved to be more mindful this year. Maybe you resolved to work on your core this year. Or did you resolve to finally figure out those gut issues you’ve been wrestling with over the last year?
Good news! Working on your diaphragm can help with all of this! Diaphragmatic breathing has many benefits: it calms your “fight-or-flight” system, improves core function, and improves gut function. A triple threat!
Your diaphragm is a large muscle that sits beneath your lungs, separating your lungs from your abdominal contents. It contracts and relaxes to move air in and out of your lungs. We can unknowingly adopt dysfunctional breath patterns that can lead to increased “fight or flight” responses as well as abdominal bloating. When the diaphragm doesn’t fully contract, your lungs don’t fully inflate. It can throw off the pressures in your abdomen, leading to bloating. The diaphragm, when used correctly, can activate the “rest and digest” part of the nervous system, leading to decreased anxiety, blood pressure, stress hormone levels, and pain responses.
Another important function of the diaphragm is that it forms the top of your core (pelvic floor is the bottom, back muscles are the back, and the lower abs are the front). Without proper diaphragm activation, you can have muscle imbalances in your core that can lead to low back pain, pelvic floor dysfunction, and abdominal weakness.
Let us help you get started on your resolutions by learning how to properly engage your diaphragm! Breathe life into the year ahead!