Core Breath – Diaphragm

by:Renee Groenland, CPT, MT

Core Breath - Diaphragm

We have already discussed proper alignment in this blog (see link below). Now that we have a great base to build upon, we can optimize our breath and increase synergy between the Core 4. With an ideally functioning diaphragm we are able to incorporate our core breath into any exercise or activity of daily life and engage our core stabilization muscles.

The core breath itself is an active breathing technique that brings awareness to your proper breathing patterns. Practicing this regularly will train your body to do this naturally when you are not consciously thinking about it and increase the effectiveness of the whole system. This is super important because you want that muscle memory and ideal pattern engrained in your body so that when you need a quick reaction your body knows what to do and you don’t leak. Let’s face it, toddlers are unpredictable, you may have to turn around and sprint to the bathroom with a kid in your arms before they poop all over you. In this instance, we don’t have time to stop, engage our diaphragm and pelvic floor before we start running so that we don’t leak and have to change both the kid and ourselves.

The key to a good core breath is rib mobility. Your diaphragm is connected to the bottom of your ribs and they function as almost the framework for the muscle and a great way to visualize if your breath is strong.

  • Sitting up tall in proper alignment, ensure your ribs are soft (not jetting out in front of you).

  • Take a couple of breaths and bring awareness to your breath. What part of your body moves on the inhale and how does it change on the exhale?

  • Place your hands on the side of your ribs (for awareness). Now breathe into your hands, imagine pushing them out to the side.

  • On the inhale we want to expand the ribs out in all directions. You can imagine an umbrella opening up, or a jellyfish expanding before it propels itself through the water. I personally like to envision my ribs pushing out towards my bra strap.

  • On the exhale we will release our breath and the ribs will return back down/inward to a resting state.

Your ribs are like a balloon. When the balloon is filled with air it expands in all directions. When the air is released the balloon decreases in size.

If your ribs are moving adequately then your diaphragm will move with them. If you are struggling with getting a good core breath I recommend seeking out a trainer with pre & postnatal expertise, or a physiotherapist, or a chiropractor to help ensure you do not have any restrictions happening. When we grow a baby inside of our bellies, all of your organs get pushed up into your lower ribs and can cause adhesions and reduced mobility.

I would recommend that you start this core breath right away. Ideally, we can use our breath in pregnancy to prepare our core and body for delivery and postpartum healing. Then once the baby is born, we can re-pattern our body and promote proper core stabilization (as long as there is not pain in your pelvic floor or core within the days following your baby’s birth).

Renee Groenland, CPT, MT


This Guest Blog is written by Renee Groenland.

Renee is a Mama to two littles and started Strelle Wellness out of necessity and passion. She has always had a love for health and wellness, but the changes her body went through during pregnancy and postpartum changed her whole world. She felt under prepared, misinformed, vulnerable and alone in her postpartum healing process. Trying to return to her usual physical activity was much harder than she had anticipated and felt there was a lack of support and understanding from so many of the trainers out there. You can't just 80 day obsess to get your body back to feeling OK again. So Renee started Strelle, a pre & postnatal personal training company, helping women feel strong, confident and ready to take on the world.

If you have any questions or would like a video or in-person assessment, please contact Renee to set up a time to optimize your breathing.

See Renee's original post on 'Proper Alignment': https://www.strellewellness.com/post/ribs-over-hips

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