Use Your Breath to Protect Your Back
Low back pain: almost everyone has felt it and been frustrated by it. The good news is that there are some simple and effective ways to mitigate and prevent it.
Belly breathing is one effective technique for relieving anxiety, stress, pain or tension. In 2010, an international study showed slow abdominal breathing reduced the “fight-or-flight” response. Diaphragmatic breathing reduces stress, anxiety, anger, and inflammation by activating the “relaxation response”.
Belly Breathing builds intra-abdominal pressure. It involves training your breathing pattern to create a cylinder of pressure in your abdomen. This protects your low back from excessive strain or injury. Belly breathing can improve the way you move and the way you feel over time.
“Your strength and efficiency are greatly determined by your breathing pattern and spine stability. Imagine the muscles that hold your spine together are like instruments in an orchestra. To make beautiful music, they each have to play at the right time and right level. Your breathing is the conductor that coordinates that orchestra.” Doug Barsanti, ReInvention Fitness
How to Practice Belly Breathing – Level 1:
Lay on your back on the floor or on a mat. Bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor.
Place your hands on the front of your belly. Take 10 deep breaths, focusing on inflating your belly toward the ceiling. Keep your chest, neck, and shoulders relaxed and soft.
Move your hands to the sides of your waist and focus on inflating your abdomen outward into your hands for 5 to 10 breaths.
Focus on pressing your low back into the floor with each inflation of your abdomen. Visualize a cylinder filling with air in all directions.
Practice this technique until you feel comfortable and confident in your ability to create your cylinder of air.
How to Practice Belly Breathing- Level 2:
Start with the steps above for 5 breaths.
Practice keeping your cylinder expanded, even during your exhale. Fill your abdomen with air, pushing out in all directions. Maintain this shape of your abdomen while you exhale.
Repeat for 15 to 20 breaths. Keep your chest, neck, and shoulders relaxed.
Get Help for Learning Belly Breathing
~ Christine Matheny, Low Back Class participant.
Check out the upcoming Yoga for Low Back Pain Class with our instructor Ashlee Tatum. The Low Back Class focuses on relieving pain in the low back through accessible breath and movement techniques. Belly Breathing techniques give you strength and stability. As Ashlee says, “The ability to breath into your belly encourages better musculature function and a quieter mind.”
Ask Dr. Goldi for some variations if you have mastered the steps above!