Date of Graduation

Summer 2016


Master of Science in Athletic Training



Committee Chair

Tona Hetzler


Athletic trainers (AT) incorporate diaphragm training techniques into treatment protocols; however, further understanding of the techniques’ purpose and application is needed. An investigation of clinical reasoning for use of diaphragm training and evaluation as therapeutic tools in rehabilitation was conducted. Research questions sought to identify AT perspectives and rationale for incorporating these techniques, explore how ATs gain knowledge, and identify evaluation and educational methods utilized in rehabilitation. A qualitative investigation employing a phenomenological approach was used to address the research questions. Procedures included convenience sampling, one-on-one semi structured interviews, transcription, and coding that led to overall theme development. Thirteen ATs from collegiate and rehabilitation clinic settings were interviewed. Trustworthiness was ensured using triangulation, member- and peer- checks. From the clinician narratives, three main themes emerged regarding the incorporation of diaphragm training into rehabilitative treatment: 1) to improve performance; 2) to correct disordered breathing; and 3) to decrease tension. Clinicians perceived the benefits of diaphragm training as advantageous as evidenced by patients’ observed outcomes. Techniques were learned through both formal and informal methods. Three primary evaluation methods were used to assess the diaphragm: 1) observation; 2) goniometry; and 3) palpation, while the main methods of patient education were: 1) instructional; 2) manual; and 3) biofeedback. This study provides current and future AT with an understanding of the utilization and application of diaphragm training.


diaphragm, breathing, treatment, breathing disorders, muscle tension

Subject Categories

Sports Sciences


© Marisa Rashel Foltz

Open Access