Belly Breathing To Help Reduce Neck Pain
The terminology of a “weak core” most likely isn’t news to you but the core involves muscles other than your abdominal muscles. Another major piece of your core is your diaphragm. You may think that your diaphragm couldn’t get weak. That’s what you use to breathe all the time, right?
Well let’s test the strength of your diaphragm now! Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your belly. Now take a big, deep breath in…
Did your chest elevate? Did your shoulders shrug up? Did you feel the muscles in your neck tighten? If so, this can be a sign that you’re recruiting secondary muscles to help you breathe instead of relying on your diaphragm. This is a weak core in action and can be one of the contributors to chronic neck and shoulder pain. You’re recruiting those muscles more than they should be which can lead to pain and tightness.
One of the other issues that can present with a poorly functioning diaphragm, is the lack of utilization of the entire lungs. In fact, the bottom portion of the lung only becomes available when the diaphragm can fully contract. This portion of the lung is much more effective at receiving oxygen. We all know how vital oxygen is to our body function, so why are we gypping ourselves in getting the best we can?
Take a look at an infant. When they’re on their backs you can easily see their tiny bellies moving up and down with each breath! So how can we reclaim the belly breathing of our youth?
Start by lying down on your back with your knees bent. Place a tennis ball or book on your belly. Now take a BIG, deep breath in and focus on lifting that ball or book while keeping you shoulders and neck relaxed. Your chest may also rise slightly but you want the first and majority of the movement to be in the belly. When you’re ready to breath out, contract your abs as you exhale which will help push the diaphragm back up. Repeat for 10 minutes each day and you will be well on your way to strengthening your core.
Breathe. Relax. And Enjoy!!
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