Deep breathing exercises are pretty much a part of yoga or pilates or even weight training! There’s a new health coach popping up everyday talking about how important the supposed “deep breathing exercises” are for your mental sanity in this crazy, crazy world, right? But do they know what actually happens at the physiological level when we do deep breathing exercises? Or do you even know whether you’re doing it correctly? In fact one of the most surprising role is in strengthening your tummy muscles that forms your core. Since we know that abdominal separation is of the tummy muscles especially after pregnancy, deep breathing exercises play a massive role in strengthening these muscles to recover. Here’s what happens when we do deep breathing:

picture of a woman doing deep breathing exercises

The right way of doing deep breathing exercises for core strength

So before I explain to you the science behind the mind body connection, let me first show you how to do deep breathing correctly. Yes, people get it wrong! This simple technique. Anyway, so we begin with one hand on the tummy and the other on the chest. Now close your eyes. Ok before you tell me that you’re not the meditating types, just humour me ok? Closing your eyes actually helps you to focus. So sit in a relaxed position but upright. Now gently take a long , deep breathe and pay attention to the hands. The hand that’s on your tummy should rise when you breathe in and fall when you breathe out. The tummy muscles should expand out when we breathe so the diaphragm(the main breathing muscle) has a good range to move. This is why pregnant women get short of breath because as the womb grows , it pushes the diaphragm up reducing the range that it has to move.

Another important thing to look at is that you breathe out through pursed lips so the breathe out is slow. This will ensure that your lungs draw the air out slowly and give your ribs to gentlymove back into the relaxed position. And that’s how we do deep breathing..simple!

Ok but how does deep breathing actually help my abdominal separation or diastasis recti?

Now breathing(like digestion) is involuntary.Meaning we don’t really have to consciously make an effort to breathe or digest our food. This is all controlled by the big P…our parasympathetic nervous system or PNS in short. BUT when we’re stressed the other sympathetic nervous system or SNS comes into play. Making us stress out! That’s just the normal response of our body as it prepares to fight or flee. Once the stress is gone, the PNS comes back to play it’s part and everything goes back to normal. BUT what happens if someone’s constantly stressed? the SNS is always active and PNS doesn’t get a chance to butt in. So by actively doing the deep breathing , you’re actually activating the calming system of your body and asking it to relax. This will release feel good hormones which will in turn help you to recover. Of course repetition is the key. We have to repeat things in order to learn a new way of doing things.

picture of a woman doing deep breathing exercises

Deep breathing also helps to strengthen the diaphragm by allowing it to work through it’s full range of movement. The diaphragm is actually a part of the core muscles that support your lower back and tummy muscles. Deep breathing not only helps the diaphragm move properly, it’s also helping your tummy muscles(where the separation has occured) to work along with the diaphragm. This helps in stregthening those msucles.

So this is exactly how deep breathing plays an important role in core strengthening after abdominal separation post pregnancy. If you or anyone you know need support with strengthening their core muscles post pregnancy or recovery from back pain post pregnancy, just get in touch and we’re here to help!