Diagram of the Diaphragm

Breathing.  It's not easy.  Yet, it effects so much in our body.  From how we feel to how we function, breathing is an integral part us.  As we educate ourselves in movement i.e. going to the gym, taking classes, personal training - all of the routes we go down to better our bodies.  Still the one thing that keeps us moving, breath, we know so little about.  It's rarely focused on in exercise because it is extremely frustrating and often times counterintuitive.  However, it is SO important.  So, lets start at the beginning. 

What is actually happening when we take a breath?

A few things are happening.  First, our stomach EXPANDS as we inhale.  Second, our diaphragm draws downward, towards our abdominal organs.  Its true, with an expansive diaphragmatic breath, our organs must shift downward to allow for the expansion of our lungs and diaphragm.  Thirdly, our ribcage moves up and out - not just "out" to the front, but three-dimensionlly, 360 degrees.  Then, as we exhale the reverse of that entire sequence happens, our stomach deflates, our diaphragm relaxes back up into our ribcage and the ribs narrow (three-dimensionally.)

And that all happens in one breath.  Still confused?  Probably.  Lets look at a diagram of the diaphragm - like promised.

Here is that confusing muscle, weird right?  To get even more complicated as we inhale and our lungs, belly and ribs are expanding, our diaphragm (remember it is a muscle) is CONTRACTING.  Just like any other muscle in our body contracts and releases, the diaphragm has to contract in order for us to inhale properly.  To put it even simpler, we have to WORK to breath correctly.  It takes conditioning to breath correctly and effectively.  

Good news is, there are a lot of exercises to strengthen the diaphragm.  Check out my Instagram page (coming soon) for diaphragm conditioning movements.