The Importance of Belly Breathing Technique and IAP | Kansas City Muscle Specialists

29 February 2020Chiropractic, Lifestyle, Physical Therapy

Having a strong core and abdominal bracing isn’t about having ripped abs. Your core serves a highly important and functional role in everyday activities from bending over to pick something off of the ground to lifting weights at the gym. Practicing the proper belly breathing technique is crucial for maximizing core strength and reducing injury. 

When activated properly, your core does more than just stabilize your low back; it allows your body to move and breathe more efficiently. Oftentimes, breathing is the underlying component of movement dysfunction and improper muscle overuse, which leads to pain and injury. 

So how exactly do you go about “activating your core properly”? It begins with IAP, or intra-abdominal pressure. Keep reading to learn more about belly breathing technique and how to use IAP in your daily life. 

What is intra-abdominal pressure (IAP)?

IAP is the concept of pressurizing your core through abdominal bracing and “belly” breathing. To achieve IAP, you breathe into your belly/core using your diaphragm rather than your chest. This method is the most efficient way to breathe so you can maintain good spinal health and prevent issues with surrounding musculature. 

Chest breathing uses muscles that aren’t meant for breathing. As a result, it creates tight and imbalanced muscles throughout the chest, shoulders, mid-upper back, and neck.

At F.I.T. Muscle & Joint Clinic, IAP is a very important part of our treatment plans for almost all our patients. We begin by teaching this exercise lying down face up with the hip and knees bent to 90 degrees while supported on an exercise ball or chair. This is the easiest way to master your breathing, but it can be utilized in every position. This includes seated, standing, or during any exercise as well! During exercise, it is especially important to practice IAP to maintain good core control and keep the back protected.

How to practice belly breathing

To begin, there a few things that are important to note when practicing your IAP:

Keep a neutral spine. You’ll want to avoid hyperextending your low back (during this exercise and always!) as this decreases the body’s ability to create pressure within the core and protect the spine. This is important to remember whether you are lying down, sitting up, standing, bent over, or exercising.

Keep your ribs pulled down. This goes hand in hand with low back hyperextension. By keeping your ribs pulled down, the body is able to create a “canister” that spans from your diaphragm (the large muscle that sits at the bottom of your ribs) to the pelvis (hips). This canister is what allows the air to be evenly distributed during breathing.

As you inhale, take a deep breath into your belly. You should feel a sensation that mimics a balloon being filled with air inside of your core. You should never find yourself “sucking your belly in” during this exercise, as the benefit is going to come from creating pressure and filling up your “belly balloon.”

Repeat this over and over again! Correcting a breathing pattern that you’ve used for most of your life can be difficult and takes a lot of repetition to master. So keep at it, and soon it will become second nature! 

Let F.I.T. Muscle & Joint Clinic help improve your belly breathing technique

If you’re in the Kansas City area, our expert team of chiropractors and physical therapists is here to help you learn about the belly breathing technique and intra-abdominal pressure. We’re dedicated to making sure your joints and muscles are in tip-top shape at all times.

Have an injury?

Whether you’re suffering from joint issues and need chiropractic rehabilitation exercises or need physical therapy services, F.I.T. Muscle & Joint offers a wide-range of services to get you back on track.

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