The diaphragm is the muscle most responsible for our breathing, accounting for 80% of air movement within a breath. It contracts downwards, giving space for the lungs to expand and fill with air, and it passively pushes air out as it relaxes. As the diaphragm is a muscle, it can be strengthened. There are many benefits to training the diaphragm, such as more efficient breaths during activities allowing for less fatigue. One intriguing benefit is that it can actually help with core stability, improving postural control and reducing risk of injuries during exercises.
So how do we train the diaphragm to attain these benefits? One method is through diaphragmatic breathing, a technique that will help focus on the contraction of the diaphragm and subsequently help strengthen the muscle.
To perform diaphragmatic breathing:
Lie down flat on a flat surface with the head supported and knees bent. Place one hand on the chest area, while the other is right below the ribs.
Breathe in slowly through the nose and let the air in deeply such that the stomach will start to rise while the chest remains still.
Relax and breathe out through pursed lips, making sure that the stomach is dropping while the chest continues to remain still.
By practicing this for 5-10 minutes for 3-4 times per day, you may see improvements in your breathing and the activities you love. So try it out!