Your voice and breathing are very closely connected. In fact, if you have any voice or reflux issues, your breathing may be to blame. Your breath is fuel for your voice and makes vocalization possible. If you’re relying primarily on your throat muscles to speak, you may experience trouble with your voice.
Diaphragmatic breathing is an important part of voice rehabilitation. Using your diaphragm may help you power through a long day of talking, or prevent damage while projecting your voice. And, as you may have guessed, diaphragmatic breathing can reduce anxiety, improve oxygenation, and lower your heart rate too. There is even evidence that it can help with acid reflux! Keep on reading to learn about the many benefits of diaphragm breathing from the experts at Excel ENT.
What Is the Diaphragm?
Diaphragmatic breathing is a technique to engage your diaphragm, so your lungs can operate at peak efficiency. But before we elaborate on diaphragm breathing, let’s pause to discuss what the diaphragm does.
The diaphragm is located below the lungs and the heart and above the abdominal cavity, which houses your stomach and intestines. It’s an important muscle that separates these two cavities and helps you breathe properly. As you inhale and exhale, the diaphragm contracts and relaxes to get air in and out of your lungs.
What Is Diaphragmatic Breathing?
Diaphragmatic breathing is the practice of consciously engaging your diaphragm while breathing. During our everyday lives, especially when we’re stressed, we can begin to take shallow breaths, which can cause a host of problems like fatigue, respiratory issues, and more. But, when you breathe deeply and engage your diaphragm, your lungs can reach 100% capacity and calm the nervous system, increasing feelings of relaxation and calmness.
What Are the Benefits of Diaphragmatic Breathing?
Diaphragmatic breathing, also called belly breathing, benefits your mind and body. From improving your mental well-being and stress response to reducing acid reflux and pesky coughs, it’s practically an all-in-one solution. Additionally, if you suffer from panic attacks, asthma, or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), diaphragmatic breathing may help alleviate some symptoms.
Some benefits of diaphragmatic breathing include:
- Reduced stress & anxiety
- Increased oxygenation
- Improved voice, cough, reflex, & digestion issues
- Lessened blood pressure
- Lowered heart rate
How Do I Perform Diaphragmatic Breathing?
Now that we’ve covered all the advantages of diaphragmatic breathing, the real fun begins! Let’s discuss implementing this into your daily routine to experience all the benefits.
Diaphragmatic Breathing Steps
- Sit up or lie down with your knees bent slightly. If you’re lying down, you can use a pillow to support your head and knees.
- Place one hand on your abdomen, just below your rib cage, and another on your upper chest.
- As you inhale, breathe through your nose, letting the air in towards your lower belly. Try to keep the hand on your chest as still as possible, focusing on breathing with your stomach. If you’re sitting upright, be sure to straighten your posture to give your abdomen room to expand.
- When you exhale, tighten your stomach muscles and breathe out through your mouth. Your stomach should return to its original position as you keep the hand on your upper chest still.
It’s common for diaphragmatic breathing to feel odd or unnatural, but as you practice, it will become easier.
How Often Should I Practice Diaphragmatic Breathing?
We recommend practicing several times daily, anywhere from five to ten minutes—whatever feels right for you. Don’t get discouraged if you feel like you aren’t doing it right or it feels hard. The more you practice, the easier it will become.
And the great thing about diaphragm breathing is that you can practice anywhere and anytime! Whether you’re at work, in the car, on the couch, or out with friends, the opportunities to improve your breathing are endless.
Breathe Easier with Diaphragmatic Breathing
With these tips, you can tackle your challenges with a new sense of control! After some practice, you’ll be on your way to breathing easier while reducing stress and improving oxygenation. If you have any concerns about your voice or throat, our SLP, Amy Pittman, is an expert in voice and throat conditions, and can help you get back to feeling your best.
Want to Learn More About Proper Breathing Techniques? Call Us Today!
Proudly serving Birmingham, AL, and surrounding areas, we’re Birmingham’s premier ENT. Our team of experts is here to help you with all your sinus, nasal, voice, and throat issues. Call us at (205) 988-6858 or contact us online!