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Take a Deep Breath!


Article by Cyndi George MSc.

Photography by Christine Lowell Photography

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Taking a good full deep breath sometimes is not as easy as one might think. Many things can interfere with inhalation and exhalation and a reason that many people do not realize are surgical scars. These could be anywhere on the body, as scar tissue is a stressor. Those scars closer to the “zip code” of the diaphragm can be particularly disruptive, such as: gallbladder, c section, appendix. Scar adhesions can attach to nearby ribs, organs and the surrounding muscles affecting fascial pull, breath and range of motion. Surgeries to the neck, shoulder, lungs will interfere with our affect our accessory or secondary respiratory muscles.

Other factors that may disrupt our breath tend to be more common including, good ol’ fashioned stress. This could be emotional, chemical and environmental toxins, viruses and even physical strain. When the body is “under stress” its main function is to keep itself alive and to do that the lungs need to fill with air. Normally our diaphragm (a muscle) is quite capable of doing that, dropping into the abdomen as we inhale – pushing our “guts” out of the way, to make room so to speak, for our lungs to fill up with air. So yes, the belly should “dome out” beautifully like a balloon in order to make room for the air in the lungs to inflate. A flat belly breath can actually cause dysfunction.

Now insert a any stressor or disruptor to the diaphragm’s natural rhythm and in the case of my client in the first photo, it was a surgical scar to his neck. The 2 photos beneath were from a C-section scar and the other from a little stressor called, trying to pass medical boards.    Whatever the stressor, if the diaphragm cannot descend the accessory or secondary respiration muscles have to kick into lift the rib cage so our lungs can fill with air. (Exp: neck, chest and shoulders muscles and even the jaw) …. Continue this pattern over time and voila over time we get rib flare and even dysfunction of muscle patterning down into the feet. Remember, the magic of our body is to find a way to keep us breathing, if the diaphragm is “stuck” its nearby friends will come in to pick up the slack. Muscle testing such as Neurokinetic Therapy® is one way to find a dysfunctional diaphragm, but the tell-tale signs appear to everyone just observe for yourself:

1.    Rib cage flare: Look to see and feel if the ribs on either side in front are elevated or pronounced and one side may be more so than the other. They will tend to look like rock wall climbing grips. And no, it doesn’t matter how thin you are the rib cage should lie flat against the thoracic cage. Even the back of the ribs and side ribs can look and feel tender, tight or inflamed even ticklish. The diaphragm fills the thoracic cavity in front sides and the back.

2.    Breath holding: Notice if you hold your breath during any movement requiring lot of strength like picking something heavy up off the floor or maybe just lifting your foot to put on a sock or get into and out of a car. The breath should be easy not hard, and a person should be able to carry on a conversation while doing an activity. If they can’t talk or hold their breath, their body is looking to gain stability.

3.    Jaw clenching: Have you been told that you clench your jaw when trying to exercise or doing a daily activity like getting up and down off the floor? Or perhaps you clench and grind your teeth at night.  

The body is in constant search of finding stability to move and this requires reflexive stability in any of the 4 quadrants. When it doesn’t trust those – it resorts to breath holding. When we have 4 quadrant stability the breath becomes easy. Suffice to say if you have a rib flare, sadly it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are super fit, skinny or muscular. It most likely means your diaphragm muscle is not functioning at it optimum and your body is not feeling stable.  I remember watching Bo Derek in the movie 10 way back in the “day,” when she was on the beach and being envious of her rib cage flare and trying to emulate that. Now I know, I was most likely trying to emulate a dysfunctional diaphragm issue. 

Instability can be due to stress from environment, viruses affecting breathing and the lungs, emotional stress and the big one is scarring, particularly in the same zip code as the diaphragm. (Appendix, gall bladder, c-section, neck surgery) The McLoughlin Scar Tissue Release® is a beautiful way to address any scars from surgery or fibrotic tissue from chronic overuse. This noninvasive technique relaxes and helps to remodel the underlying scar tissue along with relaxing and remodeling accessory and primary breathing muscles. After MSTR® we move into some cool breathing and meditation exercises and then add in the NeuroStudio’s 4 quadrant reflexive stability movement for the win!

Who holds their breath during exercise or activity like lifting up something heavy from the ground? Who can’t lift their foot to put on a shoe without holding your breath? Comment below & let’s get that fixed and start to breathe easier!

Cyndi George is one of 25 International Instructors that teach the McLoughlin Scar Tissue Release® to health care and bodyworkers both virtually and in person. She is an advanced Mentee of The NeuroStudio, a Reiki Master, ERYT500 Yoga Teacher, Level 3 NKT and Advanced AIS fascial Therapist. She travels all over the US and Mexico teaching MSTR® and works out of her studio/clinic in Gilbert, Arizona where she sees clients by appointment. If you are interested in learning or would like an appointment, please reach out: or text 480.824.3776. or visit the website

#mcloughlinscartisuerelease #scartherapy #breathingeasier #diaphragmbreathing #theneruostudio #neuropilates

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