Diaphragm Breathing

Breathing is a daily exercise controlled from the autonomic nervous system. The diaphragm is the primary muscle of respiration as well as a postural stabilizer with its main role of inhalation.

We give little thought to how we breath and what muscles we should be activating; we can breathe anywhere between 17,000 – 30,000 plus breaths per day.

Breathing is thus an automatic movement pattern our body produces to keep us alive.  We don’t need to think about breathing, our autonomic nervous system controls this.  But this does not mean that this pattern is being done correctly.

As with other movement patterns within our body, breathing patterns can become dysfunctional from our habitual behavior over time.

Breathing Related Injury and Pain

Dysfunction in your breathing can arise from habitual behaviors such as prolonged sitting, low levels of exercise or physical activity, prolonged computer or Ipad use, knitting, prolonged reading and chronic stress.

The problem with dysfunctional breathing is that it can develop compensatory function and weak pelvic stability. If you’re not breathing using your diaphragm appropriately you have an increased risk of injury and pain.

Sallow or dysfunctional breathy can increase your reliance on breathing through your chest which leads to an overloading of the muscles in your neck and chest.  Specifically, as Myotherapists we see an overuse of the SCM, upper trapezius and pectoral muscles as a result of a client not using their diaphragm correctly when breathing.

The overuse of these muscles through incorrect breathing patterns can result in significant muscular pain and injury.  Incorrect breathing patterns cause these muscles to complete significantly more work than how they are designed.  This overload of muscles leads to fatigue.  Long term overuse will ultimately lead to trigger points within the muscle and pain.

As Myotherapists we examine a persons breathing patterns when treating related injury and pain.  Our holistic treatment focus is to ensure we find the root of the cause of pain; to ensure our avoid the same injury or pain in future.

Benefits of Diaphragm Breathing

The good news is that you can improve your breathing behavior and learn to use your diaphragm correctly when you breath.

The benefits of Diaphragm Breathing are:

  • Reduces stress
  • Calms the Central Nervous System
  • Improves stability and function through stimulation of the core (pelvic floor & abdominal)
  • Reduce Low back pain
  • Improve cognitive performance
  • Increased energy
  • Less prone to mood swings
  • Reduce symptoms of pain in neck, shoulders and chest
  • Improved movement efficiency (for athletes and general population!)

Improving your breathing has shown to have a beneficial effect on your overall health.  Using your breath to fill the entire volume of your lungs is important to increase the oxygen exchange from your lungs to the blood vessels surrounding your lungs.

Exercises to Improve Your Breathing

How to correct your breathing pattern:

  1. Place 1 hand on your chest and 1 on your abdomen.
  2. Breath in through your nose while expanding your abdomen (lower hand) and engaging your abdominals when you exhale.
  3. Inhale = pushing abdomen out / Exhale = tensing of abdominals.


Better breathing exercise

This exercise should be done in front of a mirror so you can observe your chest to see if there is rising and falling.

Repeat this exercise on a daily basis, minimum 10 minutes to rewire your brain to a functional breathing pattern J

If you would like to learn more about diaphragmatic breathing, come and see Ashley Law at Elite Myotherapy Prahran.

Contact us on 9826 2006 to make an appointment

Written by Ashley Law (Adv. Dip. Myotherapy)