Updated: Mar 31
In part 2 we looked at the ripple effect of the diaphragm and how it effects the pelvic region. In this blog we look at the injuries that can manifest from not breathing correctly.
What can cause an injury to start
If three people have the same injury for example carpal tunnel or lower back pain. The way into that injury can be different for everyone. It's something that bodywork and working with hundreds of people has really taught me. Our history and experience plays a big part in how we start to unravel and heal it.
So, how did we get there?
Injuries are generally graded from 1 to 3. So how we deal with them depends on the grade. I'm always interested in the history of what makes a persons so uncomfortable in their skin. How they got there in the first place. Usually it's one of the following:
An Accident - this is probably the easiest to understand. Something physically happens and the result is not a positive one. But, it's clear. Nobody can deny it. You know how it occurred, why you are uncomfortable and that somethings needs to be done to help heal it.
Emotional Trauma - sometime's physical injuries manifest from what I like to call, emotional injury. Something has happened to you, and as time goes by, you begin to develop issues such as lower back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain. But you can't understand why? You workout, you stretch, you eat well, your office set up is great - but something is not right. You are always in physical pain and can't figure out why.
Repetitive Injury - You sit all day at a desk using a mouse non stop. Then you are texting on your phone. Or you run a bakery and are mixing all day. Or maybe you run exercises classes and have to show a particular move all day everyday. What ever it is, the size of the injury is not important. Repetitive injury is tissue trauma. How small it is to start with, doesn't matter. If left unattended it will worsen over time.
In the last two blogs we honed in and looked at how the diaphragm physically effects the body when not used to its full capacity. As a muscle in its own right, why we don't show it the respect it deserves? If it was a bicep or an ab muscle - I feel like it would be treated differently!
All of the above can effect the diaphragm. And once we stop using it, healing is harder.
More injuries manifest. Stress and anxiety increases. Confusion. Which I think is the worse part of dealing with any sort of life stresses. Our minds are creative. And when we feel discomfort, we tend to head down a road of disasters that have not - and may not - even happen. We are given pills and options that we don't even understand. Most people I see don't even know why they are doing exercises that a physio has given them. Or what they are for. They just do them, and most of the time they are done like having a microwave dinner. They don't know the ingredients involved and theres no real thought involved in shutting a door and pressing a 3min button.
They don't ask why. Ask why.
So what can I do?
So, let's look at 2 ways to get that diaphragm activated.
The Relaxed way...
Lie on your back on a flat surface or in bed, with your knees bent and feet on the floor.
Support your head with a small pillow, or a rolled up towel. You could also use a pillow under your knees if you prefer to leave your legs straight.
Place one hand on your upper chest and the other just below your rib cage. Breathe slowly through your nose.
Tune into the movement that comes with your breathing. Is it more in the chest? Or does your belly move up and down? Which moves first?
The hand on your chest should remain as still as possible, and the hand just under just below your rib cage should be slowly moving up and down.
The Active way...
This is something you can do randomly during the day. It's one of my favourites.
Place your hands on your waist under your ribs. Quite tightly, so there is some restriction.
Stand tall, with your eye-line looking out to the horizon, relax your shoulders.
Like you are surrounded by, cats, rats - whatever it is you don't like and want to scare away. Say the following word with energy and emphasising the 'T' at the end.
You should feel your diaphragm suddenly activate and push your hands out.
Try repeating this non-stop 5 times in a row. Then build it up to 10, 15, 20. Your diaphragm should start to feel tired and start flag. Practice will give it strength, show you 'where' it is and naturally activate it over time.
So. Now you know why I love the diaphragm so much. It is visually beautiful. Well hidden. And over qualified as a muscle. It does so much, It is part of the bodies powerhouse, while quietly supporting so many other systems within the body. It enables you to speak, laugh, sing, move - and heal.
So how can bodywork help...
Bodywork can help you develop an awareness. Show you imbalances and help you figure out where you need to start when it comes to healing the body. It will help you activate and deactivate muscles that will help prevent injury. Including issues arising from a dysfunctional diaphragm.
Start using it. Start breathing.
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