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Your diaphragms movement and how it affects back pain

This week I am going to discuss the importance of getting your diaphragm moving efficiently and why it will help you get rid of back pain. Your diaphragm is a large dome shaped muscle under your rib cage (see pic below). It's primary function pull air in and push air out of your lungs. As you breath in the muscle shortens (drops down) or contracts and as you exhale it lengthens and moves upwards. Unfortunately, many people cannot do this efficiently. In essence their diaphragm is 'stuck'.

Why is this a problem?

The diaphragm’s ability to move efficiently plays a big part in our ability to move between postures and positions. For example, if your diaphragm cannot lengthen or you cannot exhale air in your lungs properly your rib cage can become elevated (see pic after this paragraph). This in turn can create an increased arch in your lower back or an anterior pelvic tilt which means the

muscles in your lower back become shortened,

overworked and tight. This may eventually lead to pain in that area. However, if you have the ability to lengthen your diaphragm your ribcage can drop easier and allow your pelvis to move more freely - good news for your lower back!

The opposite can be said for somebody who cannot shorten their diaphragm, their pelvis can become stuck in a posterior position or posture (lower back is rounded or flat). This too may cause back pain as the lower back muscles are in a lengthened position all the time and not getting a chance to shorten. Generally, we would see less people in this situation. So as you can see if the diaphragm moves efficiently, your spine and pelvis will move efficiently allowing muscles to move with ease. How do we get the diaphragm to move efficiently? It's all about breathing, making sure you inhale normally but more importantly making sure you expel as much air out as possible from your lungs. By doing this you will allow the rib cage to move up and down and side to side, hence your lower back will move easier. By doing this you also create abdominal pressure which in turn creates a natural brace around the body that also acts a stabiliser for your spine.

Try this exercise below. The 90 90 hemi-bridge 1. Use a balloon if you have one and lie on your back with your 2 feet on the wall. 2. Your knees and hips should be bent at 90 deg. 3. Tilt your pelvis upwards towards your chest (your lower back should flatten into the ground as your bum comes off the ground. 4. Hold this position and inhale, then breath out all the air in your lungs forcefully into a balloon. 5. Once you have forcefully blown as much air out as possible, hold, do not breath in or out for 5sec 6. Repeat this until the balloon is full or you have done 5 deep breath cycles.

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