If you have been a patient at our clinic, you may have worked with me on breathing techniques. Proper breathing has a multitude of benefits from slowing your breathing rate to reducing stress and even improving digestion. I encourage my patients to practice belly breathing, or diaphragmatic breathing, for all of the above reasons, but also to help reduce low back pain.
What Does Belly Breathing Have to do with Low Back Pain?
The same muscles and tissues that help you breathe properly are connected to your lumbar spine (your low back). When you breathe deeply, filling the lungs and expanding the ribcage, you also activate those muscles and tissues. Exercising your diaphragm and practicing expansion of the musculoskeletal system not only increases your oxygen intake, but it improves physical motion and stability. All of these belly breathing benefits help to relieve low back pain and strengthen your system.
How to Practice Belly Breathing or Diaphragmatic Breathing
- First, begin lying on your back with knees bent and your feet flat on the surface.
- Place both hands on your abdomen.
- Inhale through your nose, while thinking about pushing your hands toward the ceiling with your breath. Your abdomen should expand upward and outward. Think of this like “filling a canister”.
- As you exhale, your abdomen should “deflate”, and sink toward the ground with your hands following.
- After practicing a few repetitions, place one hand on your chest, and continue with the exercise. The goal is to keep the chest and shoulders “quiet” as you do this.
Bonus Move: If you have a friend or family member around, have them place their hands on the tops of your shoulders, and gently press them downward toward your belly button. This can be a helpful cue to assist in keeping the upper body “quiet” as you practice the above belly breathing technique.
Belly Breathing Pitfall
You can actually inflate your stomach without filling your lungs with air. Often times, people are using incorrect techniques so they miss out on the benefits of proper breathing. Be sure to avoid this pitfall by concentrating on pulling in as much oxygen as possible and not just using your stomach muscles to round out your abdomen.
Turning Breathing Techniques Into Daily Habits
If you practice belly breathing properly, you may feel tired at the end. Working those diaphragm muscles takes practice, but like with all exercising, your body will thank you for it! Even if you don’t have low back pain, belly breathing is a great stretch and habit to form.
I personally utilize this practice 3-4 times per week and even more when I feel strain or discomfort in my low back.
As always, if you are suffering with low back pain, or simply want to improve your mobility, range of motion and performance, see a chiropractic physician.
And start your belly breathing practice in the mean time!
If you’ve experienced low back pain, you know how debilitating it can be. In fact, low back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide. If you are suffering from low back pain and have not seen a chiropractic physician, make an appointment today. Chiropractic physicians are portal of entry doctors that specialize in musculoskeletal conditions like low back pain, and research shows chiropractic care is effective and non-invasive.
The above is not intended as medical advice.