Taking time to breathe!
During times of stress I often say to my husband, “Just breathe! Inhale for 3, exhale for 5.” We tend to take sips of breathe when stressed and incorrect breathing can lead to low back pain. Recent research now indicates that taking a deep breath does indeed help to ease stress and help you become more emotionally aware, but only if done properly. Inhale through the nose and out through the mouth not in through the mouth and out through the mouth.
The power of active breathing and breathing correctly helps to control our breathing rhythm. Slow deep breathing can help to calm the nervous system by reducing our heart rate and activating the parasympathetic nervous system, actively reducing feelings of anxiety and stress. By doing this our bodies start to calm and our minds also begin to quiet.
Being aware of whether you breathe properly is essential, so many people carry out dysfunctional breathing. Dysfunctional breathing patterns reduce oxygen delivery to the lungs, as well as posture and stabilisation of the spine , resulting in fatigue and a whole host of other health issues. This sets you up for a viscous circle, where the longer you breathe in this dysfunctional pattern, the harder your body has to work.
Here are some reasons why people don’t breathe properly:
- Smoking, along with any other medical conditions makes breathing laboured.
- No one else breathes properly. Shallow breathing is a bad habit, imitating bad posture and movement habits learned as infants.
- Breathing is emotionally stimulating and expressive, many people avoid this like the plague.
- Sitting, with so many of us in sedentary jobs, – the hips are flexed to 90 degrees and the ribs sit down in the abdominals making it extremely difficult to breathe laterally.
Breathing has a vital role in its effects on movement quality and stability of the core and spine. When breathing normally or “functional breathing”, posture and stabilisation of the spine will be maintained in a healthy manner.
Take the plunge and focus on breathing properly!
The diaphragm is the primary breathing muscle for all of us! It is a thin, wide sheet of muscle that separates the rib cage from the abdomen. It is shaped like a dome which flattens out when it contracts. It is important to understand, when the diaphragm contracts, the dome flattens and pushes downwards on the viscera, like a piston or a plunger. The watery viscera cannot be compressed, they have to move outwards. So, when you inhale with your diaphragm your rib cage expands.
Breathe in through the nose to the sides of the ribs, letting the rib cage expand out to the sides working the intercostal muscles in between the ribs. This allows you to get a deeper breathe from your lungs.
As you exhale out through the mouth, imagine you are blowing out of a straw, draw the rib cage across and down.
As you breathe make sure your feet are hip width apart, your shoulders are relaxed and with each inhale ensure you are not lifting your shoulders. Feel your spine straighten, lengthening through the crown of the head with each breathe.