Do you breathe with your diaphragm? Let’s do a test, put your hand on your stomach and your chest, now take a deep breath. What hand moved first? What hand moved more? Most of you reading this probably had the first and more motion with your chest hand.
Breathing is the first motion we learn when we are born, it is the base of our motion. Look at a baby breathing and their abdomen is expanding in and out. Over time as we move less and sit more, we lose this ability. It becomes easier to chest breathe and we develop movement dysfunctions. Good News!!! Not all is lost, you can reclaim your birth right but it is going to take practice and more practice.
What is the coolest muscle in the body? If you said the diaphragm, you would be correct. Why is it the coolest? Well lucky for you, I only have limited space because I could write on and on about it. The diaphragm is a dome shaped muscle that goes along lower ribs, connecting into the thoracic and lumbar regions of the spine. It acts as double sided tape pulling the lungs down and allowing air to fill our lungs. The other main thing it does is it creates pressure in your abdomen; this pressure will create trunk stability. Upper chest breathing, as most of us do, will overwork our upper back and neck muscles adding to an already overstressed area.
Now that we have our base (pun intended), we can move on to why it is important and why we should make this more of a habit in our daily lives. Belly breathing has so many benefits like bringing oxygen so we can live but what I am most interested in is its ability to create stability for motion. Our bodies crave a feeling of safety and a having a base of good belly breathing will create that. You hear people grunting while lifting weights not just because they want to look cool but because it forces the diaphragm down creating that trunk pressure, which equals stability. Think of a water balloon, if you press it down with your palm the pressure goes down and out, that is what breathing does for our core. Now go do yourself a favor and practice belly breathing. An amazing professor of movement; Karel Lewit said, “if you’re not breathing right, you’re not moving right.”