Every Breath You Take...
Updated: Oct 31
While everyone may know that breathing is essential for life, most may not understand the many benefits of deep breathing. Deep breathing is where the diaphragm is engaged and the abdomen is expanded in all directions. This type of breathing increases the amount of oxygen that enters the lungs for the body to use as well as decreases the use of accessory muscles in the neck and chest. Shallower breathing that does not expand the abdomen overuses the chest and neck muscles, which can cause pain and soreness over time.
Activating the diaphragm with deeper breathing has neurological benefits as well. The vagus nerve runs through the diaphragm and is responsible for heart rate, blood pressure, and gastrointestinal function and is a key component of the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). When the diaphragm is activated with deeper breathing, the vagus nerve is stimulated, which can help decrease heart rate and blood pressure. This process helps to decrease the cortisol hormone that is associated with stress. Additionally, when the parasympathetic nervous system is engaged with deeper breathing it improves the body's ability to heal from injury and chronic pain. This is why breathing is incorporated into meditation and movement.
Deep breathing also works mechanically to support the spine and pelvis during movement and exercise. When the diaphragm is engaged it supports the the lumbar spine due to where it attaches to the ribs and spine. Additionally, when the diaphragm drops down during inhalation and moves up with exhalation, it activates the pelvic floor, which stabilizes the hips and pelvis. The diaphragm and pelvic floor
movement work together to activate the
abdominal muscles. So without deep breathing, it becomes more challenging to engage the pelvic floor and abdomen with function.
Breathing deep helps your body function in many many ways. So remember that with every breath you take, every move you make...breathe deep!