Effective breathing and proper diaphragm functioning is too often taken for granted.  We all know that proper breathing is essential for life, but it also affects how we respond to stimuli.

We use our diaphragm EVERY DAY to breathe! If it is not utilized efficiently, this muscle can cause back pain, neck pain, digestive ailments, sleep apnea and TMJ issues. Like every other muscle, it must be strengthened in order to function properly.

I recently had a recreational swimmer complain of lateral rib pain and some mild chest discomfort after only a few solid laps in the pool.  This client had no underlying cardiac issues and was cleared by her physician through various diagnostic tests.  She also had done several manual therapies including postural release work, yoga stretch classes, various physiotherapy and chiropractor work, and massage therapy  She was also an avid gym participant and had a solid core program that she was working with a personal trainer for many years.  Unfortunately no sustainable changes.  Fustrating to say the least!

What finally worked was understanding that her job and poor breathing awareness was a contributing factor.  Years of prolonged sitting combined with an increase in workload/stress had negatively impacted her diaphragm.  She was breathing inefficiently – having a weak diaphragm and unable to effectively disassociate her diaphragm functioning from her abdominal activation. 

The goal was to re-pattern her diaphragm and then build a proper diaphragm strengthening program in conjunction with her other core gym routines – she essentially changed her breathing strategy!

Learning to efficiently use your diaphragm under load/duress while still maintaining postural and strength goals is essential for optimal performance.  Breathing is not only a physical dynamic, but there is also a neurological/emotional connection to it.  This is why is it important to look at the body holistically and understand the why – breathe proper, breathe simple, breathe powerful!

Here is a clip from a recent Health and Wellness event we presented:

Honsberger Physio+ has incorrporated the PowerBreathe as an at-home training tool to help our clients strengthen their diaphragm. The PowerBreathe can be purchased through our online store or in any of our clinics. We will provide a custom training program for all clients based on your specific needs. 

Interested in learning more on how to strengthen your diaphragm or use your PowerBreathe? Email Jason directly at

Written by

Jason Varghese, R.Kin, CAT(C), B.Sc.
Director of Corporate Care
Certified Athletic Therapist

Building A Better You

Orthopedic Rehabilitation
105-675 Cochrane Drive, Markham, ON L3R 0B8 P (905) 940-2627 F (905) 940-3136 HONSBERGER@HONSBERGERPHYSIOPLUS.COM
81 Temperance Street, Aurora, ON L4G 2R1 P (905) 841-0411 F (905) 841-7311 AURORA@HONSBERGERPHYSIOPLUS.COM