Why The Way You Breathe Could Be Stopping You From Being Pain Free

Did you know you take more than 20,000 breaths per day? Imagine if you did 20,000 bicep curls – your arm would be SO sore tomorrow. The same thing applies with breathing. If you use the wrong muscles to breathe then they are seriously overworking. This can be one of the reasons why you always feel tight in the neck and the shoulders no matter how much stretching you do.

If you don’t breathe well there are a number of things that can happen as a result including:

  • Persistent neck and shoulder pain, stiffness, and/or tightness
  • You feel less fit
  • Pelvic floor problems
  • Back pain
  • Jaw/TMJ issues
  • Less oxygen, more carbon dioxide which means your blood is more acidic and your pain receptors are more sensitive
  • You can end up with a little belly you can’t get rid of because your diaphragm gets weak and tight

We get asked by a lot of our patients ‘How did I start breathing incorrectly?’ It’s something that happens gradually, and the longer it goes uncorrected the more problems can be created.

Things that can change your breathing pattern include:

  • Stress
  • Illness
  • Injury and trauma
  • Surgery
  • Pain
  • Postural issues

One of the way you can retrain the way you breath is to practice breathing deeply in childs pose (see image to right). Once in this position, you want to try and inhale deeply and feel your lower rib cage expand and grow wide.

You need to practice being able to breathe in and out without feeling your shoulder and neck activate. In other words, you don’t want to feel any muscle tension or feel your shoulders being pulled up towards your ears.

Try a maximum of 12 deep breaths before taking a break. If you do too many deep breaths in a row you can feel a little bit dizzy.

If you’re struggling to do this, or if you would like to know what else you can do to improve the way you breathe to help you feel better then come in and talk to one of our physios today.


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