Breathing is a very primal movement which happens subconsciously. However it can have an affect on how we move and how we stabilize. It also plays a role in regulating our body’s Ph (acidic and alkaline) levels. For neck and back pain sufferers this should be a fundamental movement that is corrected before any other exercises are taken on.
Faulty breathing results from two main causes. The first is chemical. Normal breathing allow us to take in oxygen and excrete carbon dioxide. However our breathing is regulated by changes in carbon dioxide which is acidic. Things like diet or the use of steroids or diuretics change our body’s pH level which can affect our breathing patterns. The second cause of faulty breathing is mechanical. Stiff joints, bad posture, and increased muscle tone as a result of stress can influence how we breathe. The good news is it can be corrected.
How do you breathe? Test yourself:
Sit or stand tall upright. Place one hand on your stomach over your belly button and the other on your upper chest or sternum. Take a few deep breaths and feel which hand moves first and the most.
Ideally we want the hand over our belly button to be moving first and the most. Proper breathing involves allowing our diaphragm to expand which causes our belly to rise. Our upper chest, back, and neck muscles should only be accessory muscles that assist only during heavy breathing (i.e. exercising).
Lying on your back with your your knees bent place your hand or a light object such as a small book on your lower abdomen. Take a deep breath through your nose feeling your belly rise. Exhale through your mouth with pursed lips. The exhale should take twice as long as the inhale.
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