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So you think you can breathe? – Part 2

In the blog “So you think you can breathe? – Part 1” we described the importance of proper breathing form. This blog is focused on how to change your breathing pattern.


Prone: Lying on your stomach, the easiest position to breathe with your diaphragm. Feel your stomach push into the table, then as you exhale, and the diaphragm relaxes you will feel the stomach retract. Sometimes referred to as crocodile breathing.

Supine: Lying on your back, place one hand on your stomach. Other hand on your lower neck and upper chest. Try to push your stomach forward while allowing the air to come in. Feel your belly drop when you let the air out. Once this pattern is established try not to have your neck muscles contract, or your shoulders shrug.

Seated: Same as above, you can also try looking in a mirror to give visual feedback about your shoulders. Make sure your posture is upright. Slouching puts weight on your diaphragm and makes it harder to perform correctly.

Standing: Same as above, you can also try looking in a mirror to give visual feedback about your shoulders. A little harder than doing it seated. Still keep watching your posture.

Walking: Continuing to breathe from your diaphragm while you take your first step. If you are moving at a brisk pace or going uphill you may need to allow the accessory muscles to contract and get more shoulder motion.

Exercising: Significantly more difficult. Expect it to take time. Six months to a year to become proficient at breathing from your abdomen while exercising is reasonable. There will be appropriate motion in accessory muscles under exertion. Do not try to limit motion anywhere at that point just make sure you use your diaphragm as you first start and slow down if you notice you lose the pattern and restart.

The goal of this is to increase control of your symptoms and increase efficiency. It does not replace the use of rescue inhalers or other medications.

Posture Check:

Posture is important in this process. Sitting slumped over puts extra weight on your diaphragm. Of the two pictures below, who do you think can breathe easier?

The diaphragm is a strong muscle and can work under pressure, but why would it. Anytime you notice you are in a bad position, correct your posture and take a deep breath to confirm you are breathing from your diaphragm.

If you are having trouble with this progression, meet with a professional who can guide you through the process.

We can help accelerate the healing process and teach you how to break the cycle of pain returning with use. Contact Beyond Wellness, a network of medical providers located in Virginia. 703.272.5469 or www.mybwdoc.com

Dr. Martin C. Donnelly, DC, CCEP, CKTP, FAKTR-PM, GRASTON Certified,