When you are riding at pace, are you breathless and wheezing like a fish out of water? Do you suffer from back or neck pain or both? Read on to find out why.

First we need to understand the role of the diaphragm in breathing, core stability and as a source of pain. Practitioners often ignore diaphragmatic bracing or splinting, or misdiagnose it as exercise-induced asthma when the cyclist complains of back pain or shortness of breath during intense exercise.

The diaphragm is a large sheet of muscle separating the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity – it resembles an enormous Portuguese Man of War jellyfish – and it links the lumbar spine and pelvic girdle to the neck and shoulder girdle. During inspiration (breathing in), a correct breathing pattern sees the diaphragm descend, the abdomen bulge outwardly while the lower ribs swell laterally.

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