Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as “belly breathing” is breathing through your diaphragm rather than your chest. When we breathe with our belly we are engaging our diaphragm, as well as our intercostal muscles- these are muscles that lie in-between the ribs, that work together to help us breathe.
Breathing with your diaphragm will send a response to your nervous system to relax. This technique can be used during your activities of daily living, as well as during your massage therapy treatments.
Here is a step-by-step guide to diaphragmatic breathing.
- Lay on a flat surface on your back, or seated in a chair
- With one hand placed on your chest, and the other on your stomach- this lets you feel your diaphragm moving when you start to breathe.
- Inhale, through your nose- you want to feel your stomach expanding, imagine you are trying to push into the hand on your stomach
- During this make sure the hand on your chest stays still
- Exhale, through your mouth until you have expelled all your breath
I like to incorporate this technique into my massage therapy treatments if I notice the persons breath is shallow, for pain management, or at the beginning of treatment to send that relax signal to the brain.
A couple other benefits of diaphragmatic breathing are lowering your heartrate, lowering your blood pressure, bringing awareness & engagement to your core muscles as well as breathing so you aren’t expending more energy than necessary.
-Rachel, Registered Massage Therapy