Take a Deep Breath!
It is easy to get caught up in the stress and busyness of everyday life, so it is important to remind ourselves to slow down and take a few deep breaths. Doing so not only helps to relieve stress, but also results in physiologic changes that are good for our body.
Many of us are shallow breathers, meaning we breathe with our upper chest and sometimes neck muscles. This can become problematic long term and can lead to tightness in some muscles, weakness in others. This is when diaphragmatic breathing becomes so important. This breathing technique utilizes the diaphragm muscle, the lower part of the rib cage, and spine. Shallow breathing can lead to low back pain and result in compromise in the stability of the spine while diaphragmatic breathing can result in improved rib and spinal mobility, leading to decreased pain, as well as a decrease in heart rate and blood pressure.
To take a diaphragmatic breath and ensure correct technique, lay on your back and place your hands on your lower rib cage. As you inhale, breathe in through your nose and envision pushing the rib cage out into your hands, expanding your abdomen and rib region. During exhale, breathe out through your mouth and contract the muscles in your abdomen and rib cage, forcing the air out of your abdominal region. Repeat.
This technique has many health benefits so throughout the day, take a moment and remember to breathe!
Brandis Graves, PT