By Anna Checket
To make a pretty long story short, chronic low back pain can have a ton of causes, but poor posture and poor breathing habits (many of us have both) are often at the root. Start addressing your postural habits and practice diaphragmatic breathing daily – and it may surprise you just how simple low back pain relief can be.
The diaphragm (a large muscle located in the trunk that plays a major role in breathing) is related to your “core” musculature, and is directly connected to many of the muscles that support the spine. Because of poor postural habits and stress, we can deviate from the proper rhythm and function of the diaphragm. This leads to imbalances and compensations throughout the system and can result in low back muscles that are tense, overworked, and vulnerable to injury.
To practice proper diaphragmatic breath, lie on your back and put one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. On your inhale, aim to make the hand on your belly rise, letting the hand on your chest rise only secondary to your belly. The belly and rib-cage should expand first. To exhale, simply relax entirely and let the breath exit passively. Breath slowly and smoothly. Try the positions shown below. Incorporate ten slow breaths, 3 seconds in/6 seconds out, 2-3 times daily.
Position 1 (above) is best if you are new to this type of breathing. Position 2 (below) can be used as a progression to position 1, if … 1) you breathe into your belly easily 2) your breathing is smooth and not labored
If you are actively experiencing a spasm or low-back pain event, a few minutes of diaphragmatic breathing can alleviate symptoms instantly by stimulating circulation around the spine and relieving muscular tension. In addition, diaphragmatic breathing sets the body into a state of de-stress and healing through parasympathetic activation.
This exercise is great as a daily maintenance practice as well, preventing postural imbalance and providing a reset to the system. Use it while taking a break from being seated at your desk or to relax before going to sleep.