Recently at Range of Motion Physical Therapy Clinic Dublin, I wrote a blog on how a client of mine has benefited from exercises based around diaphragmatic breathing and getting him to change a habit of life time. I wanted to come back to the topic of Diaphragmatic breathing in terms of it benefits and show you some techniques on how to master diaphragmatic breathing and progress yourself through the process.

When the body is under either emotional or physical stress our sympathetic nervous system is stimulated, this has a number of physical responses within our body. Our heart rate rises, we start to sweat, our muscles tense and our breathing becomes rapid and shallow. With most of us we start to breath quicker through our chest, this cycle can over stimulate our sympathetic nervous system, leading to an imbalance that can effect our physical health.

Diaphragmatic breathing can be used to directly influence these stressful changes causing a direct effect on the parasympathetic nervous system, resulting in relaxation and a reversal of the changes on the sympathetic nervous system. I see this with players on the field when they are winded, they can recover and relax quickly by having them to breath calmly through their nose and out through their mouth. By using diaphragmatic deep breathing their bodies return to a more relaxed state more quickly.

I see a lot of clients with chronic stress, particularly those in desk jobs, chronic stress causes a lot of restriction in the upper chest, neck and shoulder muscles, resulting in a decrease in neck and shoulder range of motion. This coupled with us sitting hunched over our computers typing all day, all compounds this problem resulting in chronic upper body issues.

This can all result in “chest” breathing, you can check to see if you are a chest breather by placing your left hand on your chest and your right hand on your abdomen. As you breathe, see which hand rises more. If your left hand rises more, you are a chest breather. If your right hand rises more, you are an abdomen breather.

Chest breathing is inefficient, as with the client in my previous blog his chest breathing resulted in less oxygen transfer to the blood and poor delivery of oxygen and nutrients to tissues, resulting in him tiring very quickly in physical exercise.

Thankfully you can train yourself to make Diaphragmatic breathing habit. At Range of Motion Physical Therapy Dublin I have put together two videos that show a 4 stage programme to help progress you through the steps.

Diaphragmatic Breathing 1

Diaphragmatic Breathing 2

Please contact us should you wish to make an appointment to discuss the above blog.