Just breathe...it's sounds so simple right?! But does anyone else find themselves holding their breath throughout the day? Or if you take a second and notice your breath where do you feel it? In your belly? In your chest? In your ribs? In theory just breathing sounds so simple but many people actually have faulty breath patterns.
How we Breathe Has a Significant Impact on our Core & Pelvic Floor Function
Our diaphram (one of the main respiratory muscles) functions directly with our pelvic floor as well as our deep core muscles. Where you feel your breath can have a significant impact on how the pelvic floor muscles and deep core are working together. One of the reasons has to do with the timing of these muscles.
- As we inhale the diaphragm descends (towards the pelvis) and the pelvic floor and transverse abdominis muscles lengthen. So all these muscles descend together.
- As we exhale the diaphragm ascends (up towards the lungs) and the pelvic floor and transverse abdominal muscles lift to expel air as we breathe. As we exhale all these muscles elevate together.
If we are experiencing faulty breath patterns not only will the function of the core muscles be altered but there may be an increase in intra-abdominal pressure. Intra-abdominal pressure is the amount of pressure being placed inside the abdominal wall and all associated muscles/ organs. You can think of the intra-abdominal pressure like a balloon that contains your organs, and your hands wrapped around the balloon as your abdomen. When you press on the balloon you can see how the pressure has to go somewhere (Diastasis Recti, Pg.36). So when there are forces that constantly increase the pressure (such as poor alignment, faulty breath patterns, pregnancy etc.), that constant pressure placed on a tissue can contribute to diastasis recti, pelvic organic prolapse, hernias, and disc injury.
So where should you feel your breath?
- First take a minute to sit (pressure on sit bones/ ribs over pelvis) or lie down and just pay attention to where you are breathing into with relaxed breath. Many of you may notice more belly or chest breathing. But just pay attention and notice the sensation of breath and where you feel it.
- Now place your hands on your side ribs with your thumbs wrapping around to your back ribs.
- When you inhale, breath into your side and back ribs and feel the breath into your hands. Do this gently without force.
- As you exhale lengthen through your spine (lengthen the top of your head toward the ceiling). Again this is a subtle action, not forced. Try to relax and imagine a string at the top of your head being gently pulled up.
- Check into this whenever you can. I like to as soon as the kids go down for a nap, at the start of a workout, walking by myself or even at the end of the day if I'm feeling tension through my shoulders and ribs. If your feeling any heaviness in your pelvic floor or have been on your feet all day try this lying on your back, you can add a bolster under your pelvis or even place your feet on the wall.
Exhale on Exertion
- Breathing out any time you lift the kids, lift the car seat, groceries or on the exertion part of an exercise will help improve the stability of your core while also decreasing the load on your pelvic floor.
- And just breathe mama!