Are You Breathing Correctly?

March 29th, 2018

Do you deal with stiffness, pains, aches, headaches or just flat out fatigue? Your breathing patterns may be the culprit (or at least contributing)! 

We are all subjected to daily stresses that cause us to change our breathing patterns subconsciously. Your body’s normal responses to stress include many types of reactions, including shallower, but rapid breathing, increased blood pressure and many more. This causes physical changes in blood chemistry and gets your body ready for a fight or flight response. 

In our high-stress world, we deal with constantly being in fight or flight mode. This chronic stress causes us to change our breathing patterns, which actually makes our blood more acidic. It also slows down your lymphatic system, which is responsible for carrying normal metabolic waste materials away. These blood chemistry and lymphatic changes can lead to symptoms of general fatigue, aches, pains, sleepiness and even headaches. In some cases, fibromyalgia and other chronic pain disorders can be traced to chronic stress and biochemical changes from altered breathing. That is why it is so important for these sufferers to focus on restoring proper posture and breathing techniques.

Posture and Your Breathing

Your posture is critical to how well your body can breathe. If you find yourself slouching all the time and find your head protruding forward, your posture will greatly affect your breathing. The spine is the anchor for your breathing muscles, requiring good flexibility and proper curvatures to function properly. Furthermore, having good posture, means your ribs have room to expand properly, filling your lungs and using your diaphragm muscle correctly.


How You Should Breathe

Take a moment to look in the mirror and place your hand on your upper abdomen. Take a deep breath, what moves?  Are your shoulders and upper trapezius muscles moving? This is problematic if so.  You should not actually have much movement in these areas when breathing normally. Most of the movement should come from your upper abdomen expanding as your diaphragm muscle descends.


What You Can Do

It is important to take time every day to correct your breathing and train your body to breathe properly again. It is amazing, that with 5-10 minutes of proper training a day, you can feel more energized, reduce fatigue, alleviate a lot of common ailments and feel your best.


Proper Technique

  • Lie on your back with a pillow under your head for support.
  • Place your hands on your upper and lower abdomen.
  • Close your eyes and take normal, but slightly deeper breathes.
  • Try to maintain a rhythm of a continuous inhalation for 4 seconds, then exhalation for 6 seconds. Eventually, as you feel good with this speed, slightly increase the duration for 6 seconds inhalation, then 8 seconds exhalation.
  • Focus on making your abdomen rise and lower, while keeping your shoulders relaxed. Gently feel your chest rise towards your throat and your ribs expand outwards and upwards. However, continue to make sure that your neck and shoulders stay relaxed.


How Physical Therapy Helps

Our physical therapists are experts in posture and motion. Proper breathing technique is a big component of our whole body approach to making your body perform to its peak. Whether you are an athlete or a senior, everyone can benefit from better movement, posture and breathing. If you suffer from neck, back or joint pains, we can help you quickly relieve pain and live a healthy life. Call HealthQuest Physical Therapy today to learn more and talk to one of our specialized therapists. It will be like taking a breathe of fresh air!  We proudly offer Free Assessments so you can rest assure, you won’t be signing up for anything you don’t need! 


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