Respiration or breathing is not just important to maintain life and function of the organs but plays a role in the development of pain and pain syndromes. When breathing is not ideal one must use many other muscles to aid the body in expanding the lungs so sufficient amount of oxygen is taken into the lungs. It is estimated that 75% of individuals with pain or anxiety do not use proper respiration.
Ideal breathing is not as easy as taking a breath in through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. It consists of lung andlower rib cage expansion with 360 degree core expansion. The neck and shoulders should not be involved in proper breathing. Breathe Strong, Perform Better
Ideal proper breathing starts with proper core expansion and use of the diaphragm. When one inhales through the nose theentire core (belly, sides, and back) should expand due to dropping of the diaphragm. The air should be pushed downward towards the pelvis. The ribs should move downward and out while they expand. Exhaling should be performed slowly and naturally. You should not force air out of your lungs and exhalation should be twice as long as inhalation.
Proper respiration helps restore alignment of trunk and spine, decreases stress and over activity of muscles in the shoulder, neck and hips, improves oxygen consumption, and improves many more organ and nervous system functions. The most efficient way to stabilize the core is to breathe properly.
Improper respiration can aid in many dysfunctions and the development in pain. Many of us hold our stomachs tight to appear to be smaller than we are. Doing this blocks the diaphragm and does not let it push downward when we inhale. This decreases the strength of the protective muscles of the spine and hips.
When the diaphragm can not fall properly, other muscles have to assist in rib expansion. The neck and shoulder muscles pull the ribs upward, instead of them moving downward and out. This type of respiration can lead to shoulder and neck pain along with headaches.
Long term improper breathing can lead to overuse injuries and syndromes in the spine and extremities. Over using the neck and shoulder muscles can cause tendinitis in the shoulder and below, nerve entrapments that mimic carpal tunnel, and disc injuries in the spine. See the exercises to help correct your breathing.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Justin Hildebrand