Article Review: Postural Function of the Diaphragm in Persons With and Without Chronic Low Back Pain

Think of poor breathing patterns as poor form. You aren’t going to let your clients perform squats with knee valgus, so why let them squat while holding their breath?

First off, this article was mainly conducted by Pavel Kolar, and if you do not know who he is, read up here. He’s quickly getting the word out about Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization. Basically, and probably too simply put, he’s reteaching movement by getting people to move like babies again.

That being said, what is one of the first things you do (in regards to movement) when you are born?

Crawl. No

Roll. No

Breathe. YES!

We hopefully breathe within the first moment of being born, which is an involuntary movement (reflexive) at that point in our life. But from this point forward the diaphragm plays as equal a role in our survival as our heart, and even a more important role in all of our movements.

You can find the entire article here.

Sure, the article uses a convenient sample, and it’s not that big, but the use of dynamic MRI to see diaphragm excursion was pretty cool. The isometric postural movements weren’t very difficult, and they didn’t need to be! All they were looking for was what happened to people’s diaphragms who have chronic back pain vs. those who do not when asked to move their arms and then move their legs. I’ll leave you to read the 10 pages for more specifics and results.

What does this mean for us as rehab or fitness professionals? Those clients of ours with low back pain may be stabilizing differently than those who do not. Taking a good history and performing a good evaluation to determine breathing and stabilization patterns are a must for our clients with low back pain. We need to make sure we are on our clients to breathe, and if they continue to hold their breathe, breathe with their neck, or do valsalva maneuvers, maybe we need to program some exercises that they can successfully perform. Think of poor breathing patterns as poor form. You aren’t going to let your clients perform squats with knee valgus, so why let them squat while holding their breath? Lastly, if you are trying new positions or exercises with your patients, breathing is the most basic of astric signs to see whether or not the position/exercise is appropriate.

What about those of us who are patients/clients? This article is relevant because you may now understand why your PT or trainer is always on your case to breath. But they can’t just be on you to breathe, you need to breathe properly (great video on breathing assessment by Patrick Ward, a new Nike performance expert). Even if you are unsupervised in your workouts. If you are not breathing, or breathing is difficult while performing certain exercises, they are probably too hard.

A warning to those of you without a medical/fitness background; the article is a little heavy on medical terminology.

Always Evolve (your breathing),


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s