Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Diaphragm and Neck/back Dysfunction Part 2

So in part one of this blog post we discussed the anatomy and function of the diaphragm, how it functions and hopefully you now have a good understanding of how it functions. So now we have the ability to see the big picture so to speak. So now we'll discuss some problems that arise.

First a simple evaluation. Watch yourself or someone you know breathe. Does your clavicle rise with each breath? Does your abdomen protrude with each breath. The first is dysfunctional. The second is something you want, and if you don't see it, your a chest breather. More on this later.

So if we have these two dysfunctions your setting yourself up for neck and low back problems. If you don't have the proper abdominal breathing, your intra abdominal pressure will not be as effective. This is needed to tense the thoraco lumbar fascia. This is part of your bodies natural "weightlifting belt." So when this isn't tensed and you go to lift, your unstable and more likely to hurt your lumbar spine.

When the clavicle is raising with each breath, your a chest breather, expanding up and not out. Your probably only using a 1/3 of your lung capacity, but also overusing your scalenes. This is an accessory breathing muscle that lies on the side of the neck underneath and slightly in front of the trap.

When this gets dysfunctional your body is forced to have a more kyphotic posture then what it healthy in the thoracic spine. So you can get your upper ribs and thoracic spine mobilized all you want, but until proper breathing is learned, it will continue to come back and you will continue to have trigger points through the upper trap area.

So besides consciously thinking about breathing a simple exercise you can do is lie on the floor on your belly. Put your forearm underneath your head and get into a comfortable position. Slowly take a deep breath and feel your belly press into the floor. Slowly exhale. Repeat for five minutes. Not only will this teach new breathing patterns, but it will gently mobilize the thoracic spine. Enjoy!

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