The Power of the Breath

By: Eric Oberst, PT, DPT

Have you ever had nagging pain or injury that you couldn’t seem to shake? Maybe there’s been a time where you’ve experienced a more intense pain that you went to go see your favorite physical therapist for. In either case, when we experience pain, our body adapts to protect us. One unconscious adaption that may occur is that we begin breath in a rapid and shallow manner. As a result of this “protection” strategy, we may become trapped in a vicious cycle. We feel pain so we breath rapid and shallow. We breath rapid and shallow because we feel pain. The problem with this is that this type of breathing steals our joint mobility and increases inflammation inside the body. What’s a simple fix to help combat this? I’m glad you asked! Diaphragmatic breathing. Diaphragmatic breathing can help us control pain, inflammation, and improve our mobility. Follow just a few simple steps below to see if this works for you.

  1. Lay on your back with your knees bent so that your feet are flat on the ground. Your head may rest on a pillow.
  2. Place your hands on your ribcage and tilt your tailbone away from the ground so that your low back flattens/rests on the surface beneath it.
  3. Take a normal breath in through your nose, keeping your low back flat on the ground.
  4. Exhale fully through our mouth, feeling the ribs move downward to your pelvis and your abdominal muscles engage.
  5. Take another NORMAL breath in, keeping the low back flat and the ribs in the exhaled position.
  6. Take 4-5 breaths per set, and complete 5 sets.
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