Breathing nourishes the whole body and regulates important functions like heart rate and blood pressure. It also reinforces proper body mechanics to lessen the stress on the body when moving. Busy lives combined with sedentary work and lifestyle can condition the body to take only quick, shallow breaths, which can weaken lung muscles and cause tension to build, worsening posture and leading to other adverse symptoms and conditions. Learning deep breathing can positively affect heart rate, mental alertness, and blood pressure and improve posture. Injury Medical Chiropractic and Functional Medicine Clinic can create personalized postural treatment and training plans.
Table of Contents
Breathing and Posture
Inhalation causes the lungs to get filled with air, and exhalation releases and empties the lungs. For the lungs to work optimally, the rib cage needs to expand constantly in a gentle, rhythmic way. The respiratory muscle/diaphragm muscle needs to go up and down with each breath cycle. This can only happen when the muscle is not contracted or tense. Tension in the upper body can increase unhealthy postures and undermine health. Continued unhealthy postures at school, work, and home will compress the ribs, intercostal muscles, diaphragm, and base of the neck. This prevents the ribcage from expanding fully, which impairs optimal breathing. Over time, the strength of the respiratory muscles weakens.
Proper body alignment reduces strain on supportive structures like ligaments, muscles, joints, and discs. A healthy posture allows individuals to breathe more easily, move more efficiently, relax, and sleep better.
Symptoms Of Unhealthy Posture
Research shows that prolonged practice of unhealthy posture can lead to health problems, including:
- Aching and chronic pain in the back, neck, and shoulders.
- Tight, sore muscle knots/trigger points.
- Tension headaches, limited sleep, and digestive problems.
- Brain fog.
- Shifting moods.
- Digestive problems.
Breathing from the chest relies on secondary muscles around the neck and collarbone instead of the diaphragm. Shallow breathing patterns accompanied by unhealthy postures cause muscles in the upper body to function improperly. The longer the body sits, the less the body can resist the force of gravity and maintain a stable core. Tight muscles around the chest cause rounded shoulders and forward head posture, further weakening the muscles that help maintain an upright posture. Chest and rib discomfort symptoms can result from the tight intercostal muscles and inadequate expansion of the ribs.
Shallow breathing can be reversed by regular physical activity, and sessions of respiratory muscle training will help to improve posture and quality of life. Deep or belly breathing involves learning to use the abdominal muscles. Inhaling slowly and deeply through the nose fills the lungs with air and expands the stomach. Learning to breathe deep regularly provides benefits like stress reduction, improved cardiovascular health, stronger lungs, and improved cognitive performance.
- Posture correction techniques relieve back and neck pain, improve muscle and joint function, maintain brain health, increase mood stability, and improve spinal health.
- Learning how to breathe deeply takes practice.
- One beginning technique is to breathe deeply and count to 4 before slowly releasing the breath with another count to 4.
- Individuals will notice their abdomen, ribs, and chest push forward as they breathe.
- The shoulders, neck, and spine properly align during this action.
- Place a hand on the abdomen to check for correct breathing.
- It should move outwards slightly as air fills the lungs.
Real Patients, Real Results
Albarrati, Ali, et al. “Effect of Upright and Slouched Sitting Postures on the Respiratory Muscle Strength in Healthy Young Males.” BioMed research international vol. 2018 3058970. 25 Feb. 2018, doi:10.1155/2018/3058970
Aliverti, Andrea. “The respiratory muscles during exercise.” Breathe (Sheffield, England) vol. 12,2 (2016): 165-8. doi:10.1183/20734735.008116
Guan, Hualin, et al. “Posture-Specific Breathing Detection.” Sensors (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 18,12 4443. 15 Dec. 2018, doi:10.3390/s18124443
Pickering, Mark, and James F X Jones. “The diaphragm: two physiological muscles in one.” Journal of Anatomy vol. 201,4 (2002): 305-12. doi:10.1046/j.1469-7580.2002.00095.x
Sheel, A William. “Respiratory muscle training in healthy individuals: physiological rationale and implications for exercise performance.” Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.) vol. 32,9 (2002): 567-81. doi:10.2165/00007256-200232090-00003
The information herein on "Breathing and Posture: EP's Health Coach Clinic" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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