Diaphragmatic Breathing

Recently at Range of Motion Physical Therapy Clinic Dublin, I wrote a blog on how a client of mine has benefited from exercises based around diaphragmatic breathing and getting him to change a habit of life time. I wanted to come back to the topic of Diaphragmatic breathing in terms of it benefits and show you some techniques on how to master diaphragmatic breathing and progress yourself through the process.

When the body is under either emotional or physical stress our sympathetic nervous system is stimulated, this has a number of physical responses within our body. Our heart rate rises, we start to sweat, our muscles tense and our breathing becomes rapid and shallow. With most of us we start to breath quicker through our chest, this cycle can over stimulate our sympathetic nervous system, leading to an imbalance that can effect our physical health.

Diaphragmatic breathing can be used to directly influence these stressful changes causing a direct effect on the parasympathetic nervous system, resulting in relaxation and a reversal of the changes on the sympathetic nervous system. I see this with players on the field when they are winded, they can recover and relax quickly by having them to breath calmly through their nose and out through their mouth. By using diaphragmatic deep breathing their bodies return to a more relaxed state more quickly.

I see a lot of clients with chronic stress, particularly those in desk jobs, chronic stress causes a lot of restriction in the upper chest, neck and shoulder muscles, resulting in a decrease in neck and shoulder range of motion. This coupled with us sitting hunched over our computers typing all day, all compounds this problem resulting in chronic upper body issues.

This can all result in “chest” breathing, you can check to see if you are a chest breather by placing your left hand on your chest and your right hand on your abdomen. As you breathe, see which hand rises more. If your left hand rises more, you are a chest breather. If your right hand rises more, you are an abdomen breather.

Chest breathing is inefficient, as with the client in my previous blog his chest breathing resulted in less oxygen transfer to the blood and poor delivery of oxygen and nutrients to tissues, resulting in him tiring very quickly in physical exercise.

Thankfully you can train yourself to make Diaphragmatic breathing habit. At Range of Motion Physical Therapy Dublin I have put together two videos that show a 4 stage programme to help progress you through the steps.

Diaphragmatic Breathing 1

Diaphragmatic Breathing 2

Please contact us should you wish to make an appointment to discuss the above blog.


Range of Motion Physical Therapy Newsletter May 13

Functional Movement Screening

Last month I attended a 3 day course on Functional Movement Screening Level 1 & 2, Functional Movement Screening (FMS) is a screening system put together by Gray Cook and Lee Burton in the 90′s. They designed it as a tool to help them screen a large number of athletes they work with, creating a generic screening process for all athletes. The screening uses 7 prime movements that help highlight asymmetries, motor control and movement deficiencies in athletes.

I see this screening system as a great new tool for me to do a full body assessment of my clients, testing balance, mobility and stability. The scoring system helps highlight overall problems which could lead to injury in the future.

The screening is then followed by creating a unique client specific corrective exercise programme based on their score and targeted to improve on their asymmetries or motor control issues.

Obviously it is impossible to avoid all injuries, however I feel using this screening tool is a great way to get a base line for clients, and to ensure they are doing everything to reduce the risk of future injury.

If you would like to avail of screening please contact me at Range of Motion Physical Therapy Lucan.
Kettle-bell Shoulder Exercises I have attached some links to some great kettle-bell exercises to help with shoulder injuries and rehabilitation. Following on from a recent webinar by Mike Reinold and as part of a progression from Thera band exercises, I have used these exercises with clients with shoulder impingement issues and acute shoulder injury, with great results.
The videos are a 3 part series that help stabilise the shoulder joint, introducing dynamic stability while carrying out the exercises, the key to the exercise is to hold the kettle-bell bottom end up. By having the kettle-bell bottom end up means your shoulder joint is placed under a more challenging position, meaning more proprioception is required of the shoulder joint while carrying out the exercises.

The exercises are a great way to help either correct a clients posture through strengthening the scapula stabilisers or help build strength in an injured shoulder.

Kettle Bell Shoulder Exercises Part 1
Kettle Bell Shoulder Exercises Part 2
Kettle Bell Shoulder Exercises Part 3
Please contact me should you wish to learn more about these exercises and how they could help with your shoulder issue.

Facial Paralysis – Changing a habit of a lifetime

At Range of Motion Physical Therapy Lucan, I have been working with a client who has suffered from Facial Paralysis his entire life. My client approached me a month ago following on from writing an blog on Diaphragmatic Breathing, he explained that he does a lot of running and has always felt the right side Facial Paralysis has effected his breathing. When he runs he feels his right lung does not fill completely and thus he tires quickly and feels very labored.

On examination of his breathing pattern it was obvious he was a chest breather with tight neck and low back muscles, also when breathing I could see his left side was expanding more than his right.

In those of us that are chest breathers we use our neck muscles more (specifically Scalene and SCOM muscles), these muscles would be used to lift the ribs in chest breathers. With my client it stands to reason that his Facial Paralysis would inhibit these neck muscle thus restricting his right side chest breathing pattern.

In terms of a treatment I focused on getting him to change his breathing habit and have him learn to breath through his diaphragm more and remove the influence of his weaker neck muscles. I also released his neck muscles, diaphragm and low back muscles used in the breathing cycle. As a home exercise programme I gave a number of breathing exercises that helped queue him to use his diaphragm more and focus on his weaker right side. He progressed through a couple of stages over 2 weeks.

After only 2 weeks he has noticed a difference in how he breaths (more Diaphragmatic) and feels more control and strength in his right side. At his last appointment I included more basic core straightening exercise to do in conjunction with some more breathing progressions.

I got a great email from him after doing a run session with his club last night…

Hi Andy
Was running this evening and tried to use the new breathing technique. Not sure if I got it 100 per cent but definitely made a difference even the bad effort. However once I got tired I found myself slipping into old habits, but tried to refocus and it worked a bit. My legs didn’t seem to get as tired as before and it felt easier in general.

I am surprised in one way how quickly my body has adapted to it. Though obviously still have a lot to do, but seeing such improvements in such a short time is very encouraging.

Great improvements but still work to do to change a habit of a life time…