Breathing, while usually performed subconsciously, is commonly overlooked and underutilized. It’s one of the few functions of the body that can truly be controlled either while conscious of it or not. So why be more conscious of breathing, and how does it affect posture? And vice versa, how can posture affect breathing?
Breathing is well understood to be important, that needs no explanation. We know breathing is how we get oxygen in to survive and breathe out CO2. However, some additional reasons as to why it is important may be ignored. In a normal relaxed state, we have a proper transfer of the two, and our body has the right chemical balance. But when breathing is accelerated and more shallow, over time we begin to increase CO2 levels within our body, causing us to think we need more oxygen and giving us the feeling of shortness of breath, both while active and inactive. This can lead to an increased sympathetic state, our fight or flight response, further causing a more constant state of stress, bad moods, and bad sleep. A consistently higher respiratory rate is also correlated with increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Breathing is done one of 2 ways: diaphragmatic breathing through our abdomen, or chest breathing. Chest breathing is usually faster and shallower, and diaphragmatic is more relaxed, deeper breathes. Relaxed breathing through the diaphragm should be performed roughly 80% of the day, leaving 20% of relaxed breathing to be done as chest breathing. The problem for some is not as much the breathing, but being relaxed for large amounts of the day. We find ourselves sitting in bad posture or so busy moving around that it’s hard to have time to think about breathing. For almost everyone that isn’t going to change- we have to work, keep busy schedules, and so on. So, if our day-to-day schedules won’t change, then we have to change our ability to maintain proper posture.
With proper posture we facilitate relaxed breathing and vice versa with proper breathing we improve our ability to maintain a good posture. With chest breathing we begin to recruit extra muscles who’s primary function is not breathing. This leads to trigger points in the shoulders, neck and mid-back from muscles being over worked. We have core muscles that are normally key contributors in breathing now losing function. These internal and external abdominal muscles double as stabilizers in posture. Sure there are, what seem like hundreds of other things that can be done to improve posture. While these are all valid and pivotal, breathing can lend itself as possibly the least strenuous exercise to practice.
When I find myself breathing fast or through my chest I take time to practice. I usually do this by lying down on my back on the floor in a quiet room in my house. Ill place one hand on my chest, and the other on my abdomen. As I breathe I focus first on speed. Nice long slow breathes in and out and once I have relaxed into the exercise I shift my focus. I then concentrate on my hands; as I inhale I feel the hand on my abdomen go up, and as I exhale I feel it go back down. The hand on my chest should very limited motion. I will perform the exercise, time permitting, until I don’t have to focus on the motion and proper breathing is happening naturally. This also helps me relax after a long day, which is an added bonus.
Chiropractic Care for Improved Health
In conjunction with good health habits, chiropractic care is designed to relieve stress, pain, and misalignment of the spine improves nerve function and can potentially boost your immune system. The objective of the chiropractic adjustment is to reduce the subluxation, which results in an increased range of motion, reduced nerve irritability, reduced muscle spasm, reduced pain and improved function. The body then will have the ability to heal its self naturally after these interferences are removed. Proper nutrition is also essential for the body to function at its optimal capacity and affects the healing process.