We take breathing for granted. Our body does it every 5 seconds . . . in . . . and out . . . whether we are awake or asleep. We were born to breathe – but somewhere along the way we stopped breathing like a baby!
Using the diaphragm to breathe – stomach breathing . . . like a baby, is how we were designed to breathe, but with todays stress levels increasing and the pace of life becoming overwhelming, we see more and more people suffering from the consequences of being a chest breather.
With chest breathing, the shoulders rise inappropriately with each breath and the muscles of the neck and shoulders tighten leading to upper back and neck tension and headaches. With abdominal breathing the stomach expands as the diaphragm moves downward to allow air to fill the lower lung fields. Every breath massaging your internal organs.
Abdominal breathing, or ‘diaphragmatic breathing’, is one of the easiest, most effective ways to:
- Reduce muscle tension in the upper back and neck causing headaches
- Reduce lower back pain and improve core muscle stability – there is a close relationship between the diaphragm and transverse abdominis which contributes to respiratory and postural control.
- Reduce anxiety attacks/panic attacks.
- Increase lung efficiency and oxygen to the body/muscles therefore increasing energy.
- Improve digestion – as the diaphragm moves downward with every breath every 5 seconds to massage your internal organs.
- Reduce and manage the ‘fight-or-flight’stress response.
A Step-by-step Guide to Deep Breathing:
- Find a comfortable, quiet location and lie flat on your back or sit comfortably.
- Place one hand on your abdomen and one hand on your chest.
- FIRST – breathe OUT fully, forcing all the air out of your lungs.
- IF YOU ARE PRONE TO ANXIETY/PANIC ATTACKS, this is MOST important as deep breathing will help to calm you BUT you can’t get a deep breath IN unless you blow the air that is in you OUT!
- Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose. Breathing in through the nostrils filters, warms and humidifies the air in a way that the mouth cannot.
- Breathe into your abdomen feeling the air lifting your lower hand up. Breathe only as deeply as feels comfortable. Your chest should remain still or only slightly rise.
- Exhale through your mouth.
- Your tummy/bellybutton should rise up as you breathe IN and fall as you breathe OUT.
Practice abdominal breathing every day so when a stressful situation arises, you are ready to handle it calmly and prevent the stress from hurting your health.
Many people struggle with this. If you suffer from headaches, upper back pain and tension, chronic lower back pain, irritable bowel and digestion problems, fatigue, or are simply overwhelmed by stress – stomach breathing could be the key! If you now realize that you are a chest breather, and find this exercise to retrain your breathing doesn’t work for you, we can help. There are many reasons why you can’t belly breathe. Chiropractic may be part of your solution. Help is simply a phone call away.