Lateral Breathing for Pelvic Floor Health

In the realm of fitness and wellness, breathing techniques often take a backseat to more dynamic movements. However, the way we breathe can significantly impact various aspects of our health, including the strength and functionality of the pelvic floor. Lateral breathing involves inhaling in a way that causes the rib cage to expand outwards to the sides, rather than upwards or forwards. By engaging the diaphragm and promoting rib cage expansion, lateral breathing supports efficient breathing patterns and plays a crucial role in maintaining and enhancing pelvic floor health.

Meet Your Pelvic Floor:

Your pelvic floor is a group of muscles located at the base of your pelvis. These muscles play a vital role in supporting your pelvic organs (like the bladder, intestines, and uterus in women), controlling urinary and bowel functions, and even contributing to sexual health. Think of your pelvic floor as part of your body’s core team, which also includes the diaphragm, the deep abdominal muscles, and the muscles along your spine.

Benefits of Lateral Breathing for the Pelvic Floor

1. Core Engagement and Stability

When you inhale laterally, the diaphragm moves downward, and the pressure is distributed evenly across your core, including the pelvic floor. This balanced pressure helps engage and coordinate your core muscles more effectively, providing better support and stability for your pelvic floor.

2. Better Pressure Management

Proper lateral breathing helps manage intra-abdominal pressure, or the pressure inside your abdomen. Expanding your rib cage sideways prevents too much pressure from being forced down onto your pelvic floor, reducing the risk of problems like pelvic organ prolapse or incontinence.

3. Enhanced Muscle Coordination

Lateral breathing encourages the coordination of the diaphragm and the pelvic floor. As you inhale, the diaphragm descends, and the pelvic floor lengthens slightly. When you exhale, the diaphragm rises, and the pelvic floor contracts gently. This synchronized movement strengthens both the diaphragm and the pelvic floor.

4. Improved Posture and Alignment

Good posture is more than just standing tall—it’s about how your body aligns and supports itself. When the rib cage expands laterally, it supports a more neutral spine position. A neutral spine helps maintain the natural curves of the spine and reduces undue pressure on your pelvic region.

5. Relaxation and Release of Tension

Lateral breathing can help your pelvic floor relax and release tension, which is especially beneficial if you have a tight or hypertonic pelvic floor. Proper breathing techniques encourage these muscles to relax fully during inhalation, easing discomfort and improving function.

How to Practice Lateral Breathing

1. Get Comfortable

Sit or lie down comfortably with a neutral spine. Place your hands on the sides of your rib cage to feel the lateral expansion.

2. Inhale with Awareness

Inhale deeply through your nose, feeling the sides of your rib cage expand. Visualize your diaphragm moving down and your pelvic floor lengthening slightly.

3. Exhale with Engagement

Exhale through your mouth, feeling your rib cage contract and your pelvic floor lift gently. Imagine drawing up and in through your pelvic floor muscles.

4. Practice Consistently

Incorporate this coordinated breathing into your daily routine to improve the connection between your diaphragm and pelvic floor.

5. Use it with Exercise

Remember to use lateral breathing during your workouts, especially in core and pelvic floor exercises, to maximize the benefits.

Tips for Effective Lateral Breathing

  • Consistency: Practice regularly to make lateral breathing a natural part of your routine.
  • Mindfulness: Focus on the movement of your rib cage and the flow of your breath.
  • Relaxation: Keep your body relaxed, avoiding tension in your shoulders and neck.
  • Posture: Maintain good posture to allow for maximum rib cage expansion.
  • Visualization: Imagine your rib cage expanding like an accordion, with the sides moving outward.

Lateral breathing might seem like a small adjustment, but it can make a big difference in your pelvic floor health and overall core strength. By incorporating this technique into your daily life and exercise routine, you’ll support your pelvic floor, enjoy better posture, and feel more in tune with your body. So, take a deep breath—sideways—and give your pelvic floor the love it deserves!

Happy breathing! 🌟

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