Thursday, 9 February 2012

Diaphragm Breathing Exercises |

Diaphragm Breathing Exercises Photo Credit chinese woman holding an x-ray image by Allen Penton from

The diaphragm is a large, dome-shaped muscle in the middle of the abdomen. When you take a breath, your diaphragm contracts and allows for your chest to expand and your lungs to be filled with oxygen-rich air. Diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and a variety of neurological conditions often result in the use of inefficient breathing patterns instead of diaphragmatic breathing. The American Medical Student Association explains that diaphragmatic breathing can help avoid lung infections. Fortunately, a variety of exercises can help train individuals to use their diaphragm for breathing.

Belly Breathing

The easiest way to determine if you are using your diaphragm for breathing is a simple exercise. Begin by placing one hand high on your chest and the other hand lower on your stomach. Take a breath and notice which hand rises. If the hand over your stomach rises, you are breathing with your diaphragm. When taking a breath, try and make the hand over your stomach rise more so than the hand on your upper chest. Do this while taking a few deep breaths.

Crossed-Arm Technique

To perform the crossing technique, start in a comfortable seated position with proper posture and cross your arms in your lap. Then bring your arms up and over your head. As you do so, take a deep breath into your abdomen as described above. When you exhale, let your arms come back down to the starting position. Bringing your arms above your head helps expand your chest, allowing your diaphragm to properly inflate your lungs.

Butterfly Technique

This exercise is similar to the crossing technique. The exercise is designed to help spread and stretch the muscles of your chest. You start the butterfly by sitting up straight with your hands behind your head. Once in position, take a deep breath with your diaphragm; at the same time, keep your hands on the back of your head and spread your elbows apart. As you exhale, lean toward your knees and bring your elbows back together. Then sit back upright and spread your elbows as you breathe in.

Pursed-Lip Breathing

Pursed-lip breathing is oftentimes used as an adjunct exercise with the breathing exercises described above. The Cleveland Clinic states that this exercise is the simplest way to control shortness of breath. To perform pursed-lip breathing, take a belly breath and slowly exhale with pursed lips. To do this exercise correctly, imagine that you are blowing on a candle flame, not hard enough to blow it out but hard enough to make it move. This technique ensures that your airway stays open longer, allowing for easier breathing. It can be done with any diaphragmatic breathing exercise.


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