· Most people do not breathe optimally! Most people hold their abdomen in which can cause even more abdominal pressure and force on the pelvic floor.
· Areas we often overwork when we breathe: chest, neck, shoulders, abdomen.
· Cues to breathe: place one hand on chest and one hand on belly
o Inhale: relax the abdomen, (ie: belly soft)
o Exhale: allow the air to flow out of the nose or the mouth naturally, without force.
There is an important structure in the body responsible for regulating our breath that many people don’t know called the diaphragm (see below!)
What is the Diaphragm?
· “dome-shaped, muscular and membranous structure that separates the thoracic (chest) and abdominal cavities in mammals; it is the principal muscle of respiration”1
How does the diaphragm function?
· When we inhale the diaphragm moves down towards our pelvic floor, giving more space in the chest for the lungs to fill.
· Simultaneously this increases abdominal pressure and increase the downward force on the pelvic floor. As a result, the pelvic floor must be strong and maintain contraction against the increase in pressure in order to maintain continence.
· When we exhale the diaphragm relaxes and raises up decreasing downward force on the pelvic floor
· The diaphragm and pelvic floor move together, when we inhale the diaphragm lowers as does the pelvic floor, putting a stretch on the muscles of the pelvic floor. When we exhale the diaphragm raises and the pelvic floor can raise back to resting position.
· If there is too much downward pressure on the pelvic floor you may have problems with continence.
Having difficulty picturing the diaphragm or how to breathe? Having problems with incontinence?
Physical Therapy can help!
Both Dr. Lauren and Dr. Sarah are trained in pelvic floor rehabilitation.
Schedule your appointment today!