Core Strength, Back Pain, & Pelvic Health: What does breathing have to do with it?

Our diaphragm does more then just help us breathe

Did you know that our primary breathing muscle, the diaphragm, also serves other important functions?

Of course, its job as a breathing muscle is REALLY important, but its relationship within the trunk to other muscles also makes it a very important muscle for stabilizing our spine, keeping our core strong, and supporting our pelvic health!

Read below to see how efficient breathing patterns, and learning strategies to use your diaphragm, can potentially:

  • improve your core strength
  • make you a more powerful athlete
  • reduce urinary leaking
  • decrease symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse
  • decrease back pain
  • of course, improve your respiratory efficiency
  • and more!

The diaphragm is part of a group of muscles that create our “deep stabilizing core”.

The diaphragm is the roof, the pelvic floor is the base, the deep abdominal muscle called the transverse abdominus and the spine muscles called the multifidus make up the walls of the core. When working optimally, these muscles are in sync to create and release tension and pressure.

When tension and pressure are distributed evenly through the abdomen it is good for stabilizing our trunk and providing support. If our breathing patterns have become less effective, then our core is also less effective; therefore, our tension and pressure becomes unevenly distributed through the abdomen. This can lead to reduced core strength, symptoms of urinary leakage or prolapse, back pain, and other symptoms.

One of the things a physical therapist will assess when evaluating back pain, core strength, and pelvic health conditions is how you breathe. There are many ways to breathe. Some patterns are more efficient and some patterns are less efficient. We can help teach you new strategies and different ways to access the power of your diaphragm so you can reduce symptoms and reach your potential!

Try this exercise at home and connect with your diaphragm and core today!

  1. Lie down on your back in a comfortable position.
  2. Place your hands on your abdomen.
  3. Just breathe. As you breathe in try to fill up your abdomen like a balloon. As you breathe out allow that balloon to deflate.
  4. Repeat that for several breaths.
  5. Assess yourself to see if this is easy or challenging, and practice until the breaths are smooth and deep.

Written by:

ASHLEY RILEY, PT, DPT, SCS, MHA, CYT

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