Correct Breathing can help you reduce pain, prevent muscle tightness and improve cognitive functioning

It is ok to look fat while you breath!

John came into the studio with shoulder and lower back pain, he worked at a desk wiring designing sound systems. John had experienced pain for over 15yrs. Over 6 weeks of treatment we eliminated his lower back pain. However although the shoulder pain had reduced, it had not completely gone away. John did a lot of research about how to heal himself. He discovered an article on breathing and started doing correct breathing pattern exercises. Doing each of these exercises 2-3 times a day started to reduce pain in his shoulder - with it completely gone in a period of two weeks. As much as I did help John reduce some of this pain, it was his research on breathing and the application of correct breathing techniques that eliminated his pain.

In the vain world in which we live we often try to look slimmer, either sucking in your stomach or wearing tight clothes that holds you in. There is even slimming underwear that will hold it all in for you! This pursuit of the perfect look has led to incorrect breathing patterns. So, what? When you breathe the wrong way, it is only a matter of time before dysfunction will develop. There are numerous effects of the body, such as:

  • a reduction in lung capacity
  • an increase in muscle tightness
  • poor posture, and
  • an increased sensitive to pain.

"Air", more so "oxygen" is the basic building block of life. Breathing is the mechanism used to deliver oxygen into our body. If you do not breath correctly pain relief will be short lived and the dysfunction will condtinue.

This said breathing is rarely mentioned or assessed by treating therapists. Breathing is also essential for the oxygenation of the body’s cells, specifically muscles, which if they do not receive enough oxygen will become dysfunctional.

The correct breathing pattern is known as "diaphragmatic breathing". This breathing pattern is where the diaphragm draws downwards causing a decrease in the atmospheric pressure in the lungs to be below the pressure outside of the body. This negative pressure inside of the lungs causes a vacuum like effect drawing air into the lungs.

From the outside of the body a person who is diaphragmatic will see their stomach raise, and then their chest expand.  The opposite occurs when breathing out, the diaphragm lifts, increasing the pressure in the lungs to be greater than that outside of the body, pushing air out. This all occurs due to a basic principle that a gas will move from a high pressure to low pressure until an equilibrium is reached.

Numerous muscles are involved in breathing, the diaphragm, the intercostal muscles as well as neck muscles (Scalenes).

When a person’s breathing pattern is incorrect, it can lead to postural imbalances in the rig cage and neck. There are four types of breathing patterns:

  • diaphragmatic which is correct,
  • clavicle,
  • thoracic and
  • stomach

The last 3 patterns can lead to postural dysfunction. Clavicle and thoracic breathing do not engage the diaphragm, with the person breathing in this pattern being shallow. Stomach breathing will often engage the diaphragm but in some circumstances there is not explanation of the chest, which is usually related to tight chest muscles.

Diaphragmatic breathing cycle aids in the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is essentials for relaxing and healing muscles. Hence, reducing pain. 

The diaphragm works closely with the pelvic floor and TVA to help support the back (the inner unit). Therefore, it would make sense that a person is not breathing correctly (not diaphragmatic) and this incorrect breathing pattern will impact the other muscles associate with the lower back. 

Secondly diaphragm is also connected to the neck muscle via the deep frontal muscle sling. Hence, dysfunction in the diaphragm will lead to these neck muscles becoming tight leading to headaches, and a reduction in the range of movement of the neck.

The vagus nerves is one of the body’s cranical nerves, it helps the body recover as well as activating the parasympathetic nervous system. When a person does not breath correctly (diaphragmatic breathing) the vagus nerves ability to function is affected. Which can cause the incorrect activation of pelvic muscles (Psoas muscle). These muscles are involved in contributing to excessive lordosis, which is often associated with back pain. By breathing correctly the vagus nerve is able to function and hence postural imbalances do not result.