Strengthening your core will really help you long term, to have less lower back pain, and can even have positive effects to lessen neck and shoulder pain. At Optimal Chiropractic in Post Falls, we strive to improve your health and overall quality of life. We recommend specific exercises to help strengthen and heal your body. Patients who are proactive and exercise regularly will have significantly better results with chiropractic care. Strengthening your core is vital in improving your condition.I remember a conversation with a good friend of mine in High School. She was saying something along the lines of “the best way to build your abs when you’re not working out is to suck it in and hold your abs all day.” Oh boy, if I had a time machine I would go back and smack myself for listening to such awful advice! Then again, we were young and dumb.“Sucking it in” and holding tension in the abs is probably one of the WORST things you can do when it comes to core strength and stability. You may be asking, why? And the answer, is because it causes POOR BREATHING PATTERNS. That’s right, by holding tension in your stomach the upper abs are contracted which does not allow the diaphragm to fully expand during breathing. But why is that important? Because the diaphragm is probably the most important muscle when it comes to breathing and overall stability.The diaphragm is a very thin muscle which lays over the top of the stomach and liver, basically separating the heart and lungs from the abdomen. When you take a breath in, the correct movement is for the belly to expand which allows the diaphragm to lower down. The opposite happens when you exhale or breathe out, the stomach is supposed to come back in and the diaphragm elevates to the previous position.So how do you know if you are breathing correctly? It’s simple. Take one hand and lay it across your chest. Then take the other and place it on your belly. As you breathe, the top hand should have very little movement, and the bottom should move in and out as you inhale and exhale. “Chest breathing” occurs when tension is held in the abdomen. This causes muscles in the chest, neck and back to work EVEN HARDER to raise and lower the rib cage with EVERY breath. “I hold so much tension in my neck/shoulders”…well then let’s start by breathing properly to help them relax!A healthy core is a stable core, and the way to stabilize the core is to utilize the diaphragm when breathing!