Is Belly Breathing all it is made out to be?

belly breathe

Belly breathing is taught to people to relax the body, to meditate, in yoga, to manage anxiety to list a few things. A lot of people coming into the practice have been told that in order to breathe properly, you need to belly breathe? I question whether that is true or not?

As a women’s health physiotherapist, I look at people’s pelvic floors while they breathe. When people belly breathe, there is a lot of downward pressure that goes into the pelvic floor. This is not ideal for people who have stress incontinence or prolapse. Yes our pelvic floor does move when we breathe, however, we need to be able to breathe in order not to place excessive pressure onto our pelvic floors.

The principle behind why people are encouraged to belly breathe is to engage their diaphragm.diaphragm


However, the diaphragm is a dome-shape muscle sitting at the bottom of our ribcage. When we breathe, the dome flattens. Yes our belly should come out but the ribcage should also move outwards and backwards. So next time you breathe, try and move the ribcage in all directions as well as the belly breath. You will then minimise those pressures onto the pelvic floor but also engage the diaphragm more fully to be more efficient at something we do so many hundred times a day. If this is hard to do, this can cause other muscles to compensate and contribute to back or hip pain, movement dysfunction, pelvic floor leakage or prolapse. At Inspired Physiotherapy we can assess your breathing as well as real time ultrasound how this is impacting your pelvic floor. You can make an appointment to see how.