How do you breathe?


Lie down on your back, put one hand flat on your chest and your other hand flat on your stomach and breathe.

Which hand moves the most?

Which hand moves first?

Do you feel the hand on your stomach move at all?

Majority of us are chest breathers, we feel the hand on our chest move the most when breathing and the hand on our stomach doesn't move much, if at all.

When we have more movement in our chest than in our belly with breathing, it is called paradoxical breathing.

Paradoxical Breathing is a dysfunctional breathing pattern with detrimental spinal consequences. A normal breathing pattern is necessary for not only respiration, but for spinal stability as well. The diaphragm is a key component of core stability and should properly activate upon demand. Rehabilitation of dysfunctional patterns is essential, yet often overlooked.

The diaphragm is the primary muscle of respiration, however, it serves a secondary role as a core stabilizer. Intraabdominal pressure (IAP) is a key determinant of spinal stability- as increased intraabdominal pressure equates to improved spinal stability. IAP is largely determined by the strength and tone of the muscles forming the “abdominal canister" (pictured below). The front and sides of the abdominal canister are formed by the transverse abdominals and intercostal muscles. The back of the canister includes the paraspinal muscles- from the superficial spinal erectors to the deeper multifidi. The bottom of the canister is formed by the pelvic floor, while the diaphragm serves as the roof. Together, these muscles regulate intraabdominal pressure and core stability.

Dysfunction of the diaphragm is an important factor in back and sacroiliac joint pain. Patients who suffer from lumbosacral pain often exhibit early fatigue of the diaphragm. There is also a close relationship between a reduction in the movement of the diaphragm and the intensity of low back pain.

Come and see us today! We can assess your breathing pattern and give you tips on how to improve it so you can strengthen your core and prevent future low back pain and injuries!