Do you get winded easily? Is it difficult to breathe when you bend over to tie your shoes? Can you stay in a squat position (while keeping your heels down!) without being uncomfortable? Do your ribs stick up really high when you lay on your back? If you answered yes to any of these, you may have a diaphragm problem.
The diaphragm is absolutely essential for stabilizing the spine and controlling our spinal posture. If the diaphragm isn’t working as efficiently as it should, it will cause problems such as shortness of breath (especially when you are bent over or squatted down), back pain, shoulder problems, and/or neck pain. It can even go as far as causing plantar fasciitis, headaches, knee problems, and even dizziness!
So what causes the diaphragm to become dysfunctional? Poor posture! Prolonged sitting, poor movement patterns, and incorrect training will cause the spine to extend more than normal. This excess extension will cause accessory breathing muscles to take over for the diaphragm, creating weakness and poor ribcage position. The domino affect creates breakdown in your joints, depending on how your body compensates for this change in position. I evaluate every diaphragm I come across, because it’s position and ability to activate is vital in determining what that patient’s spinal posture looks like.
So, I know what you’re thinking. What do I do about it Courtney?! Well I’m so glad you asked!
The best way to strengthen your diaphragm is to learn how to breathe correctly! Didn’t know there was an incorrect way, did you?! You have to learn how to exhale and allow your lower ribs to move towards your spine. You also have to learn how to inhale with your ribs in that new close-to-your-spine position. So in a nutshell, you have to learn how to breath comfortably in a squatted position. You can practice by sitting and bringing your knees close to your chest or holding on to something and going into a deep squat and learn how to breathe in that position.
Did you try it? Was it easy? Hard? I want to know! Leave me a comment or shoot me your questions!