Benefits of Diaphragmatic Breathing

Our fast-paced lifestyles have caused many of us to those the ability to use our main respiratory muscle, the large dome-shaped diagram, to breathe. Instead we use our shoulders, upper chest, neck, and back muscles, causing rapid, shallow breaths. Diaphragmatic breathing is beneficial for your physical and mental health as it reduces stress, lowers heart rate, and blood pressure. For those with pulmonary disease, such as COPD, the diaphragm often becomes weakened causing it to work less efficiently. A physical therapist experienced in pulmonary rehab can teach proper breathing to reduce anxiety, slow breathing rate, increase full oxygen exchange, and improve physical activity. Because part of the core is the diaphragm, in physical therapy, breathing is also essential to proper posture and core stability.

Diaphragmatic breathingis one of simplest things you can do to improve your overall health and well-being.

  • Lie or sit, place one hand on the upper chest and the other below the rib cage.
  • Breathe in slowly through the nose so the stomach moves out against your hand. The hand on your chest should remain still.
  • Breathe out through pursed lips as you relax the diaphragm, letting it fall inward.
  • Inhale for 4 seconds; exhale for 6; 10 times.

Engage Your Abs for a Strong Core

Whether your goal is to reduce low back pain or slim your waist, adding exercises to your workout that engage your core can make a significant difference.

The most important, yet often overlooked muscle that must be strengthened, is the transverse abdominis (TA)
which is the deep, inner abdominal muscle that begins at the spine and wraps around your waist. This incredible muscle acts as a corset or internal brace stabilizing the spine and pelvis. It can reduce low back pain, prevent future back injuries, and best of all, flatten your stomach.

To find and activate your TA, lie on your back maintaining the natural curve of your spine with knees bent. Place two fingers at the bony areas of your pelvis then slide the fingers in about an inch and down about an inch. A little cough will engage the TA and you should feel it tighten under your fingers. Take a deep breath in and exhale slowly as you gently tighten the muscle under the belly button without moving the shoulders or hips, or rounding your back. Imagine pulling your zipper up to your belly button as you tighten the muscle. Practice while sitting, standing, or lifting.

Learning how to draw in your TA takes some practice, but once you master it, you will see the results,  a stronger core, improved posture, and a much tighter tummy.

Relieving Shoulder Pain

Weekend warriors often develop shoulder discomfort when performing overhead movements while playing tennis, baseball or tackling DIY projects around the house. The longer you suffer, the more damage can occur Here are simple tips to relieve some symptoms:


Trying to “work through the pain” is a mistake. It is your body warning you of a problem. Avoid that activity and allow the inflammation to resolve.


Stretching the pectoralis minor will increase the flexibility of the anterior shoulder and chest. Stand with one foot forward against the corner of a wall using it to hold the shoulder back, pinch shoulder blades together, slowly raise the arm up until you feel a deep stretch. Hold for 30 seconds; repeat three to five times.


To be able to reach overhead fully, you need thoracic flexibility. From the knee position, lean forward and place your elbows on a chair and drive your chest downwards, stretching the spine and under the arms. Hold for 30 seconds; repeat three to five times.


5 Healthy Valentines Day Ideas - Moon Physical Therapy - Featured Image

Five Healthy Valentine’s Day Ideas

This article originally appeared in the February 2018 issue of Generations Magazine.

There is no better gift that you can give your loved one than taking care of your health and staying fit. Living well means that you will be able to enjoy your time together for decades to come. Rather than the old routine of chocolates or dining out, why not try something more active and fun, something new to explore.

Here are five ideas:

Hiking/Nature walk

Go for a walk on the beach, or hike with your special someone. The peace and quiet with natural scenery not only is romantic, but you’ll burn calories and increase endorphin levels.


Music puts everyone in a good mood. Whether it is salsa, ballroom dancing or watching your favorite local band, try something new with each other, and get your heart pumping.

5 Healthy Valentines Day Ideas - Moon Physical Therapy

Bike riding

Plan a route with amazing views, and get out in the fresh air together.

Try a new sport

Step out of your comfort zone and try something new like bowling or tennis. Burn calories as you laugh!

Schedule a couple’s massage

This may not seem like an active date, but a massage helps to relieve muscle tension and pain, reduce stress and improve overall health.

Make this Valentine’s Day a day to remember and bond with the one you love over a new experience while you improve your health.

Aquatic Therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Aquatic Therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Aquatic Therapy for Rheumatoid ArthritisThis article originally appeared in the April 2016 issue of Generations Magazine.

Many confuse rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with osteoarthritis (OA), which stems from different causes and demands a separate therapeutic program. Unlike OA, RA is an autoimmune disorder that affects any age. Onset and loss of mobility may appear almost overnight.

Sanchia Roberts awoke one morning in 1999 unable to move due to crippling pain. Since then, RA has affected almost all her joints, and her ability to walk independently. Fortunately, Sanchia discovered the benefits of aquatic therapy. “The warm water relieves my pain. My balance, flexibility, strength and confidence improved so much that now I can walk in my house without help and get up from a chair with greater ease.” She surprised herself the other day, “I spilled something on the floor and I was able to pick it up!”

Patients with RA often get caught in a cycle of pain, fatigue and demotivation, leading to inactivity, which increases pain. Aquatic therapy helps break this cycle by reducing the load on joints, allowing patients to increase muscle strength and achieve aerobic conditioning. Aquatic therapy altered the way Sanchia lives her life with RA — for the better.