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Are you breathing properly?

Did you know that the way you hold yourself affects the way you breathe?

Most of us can see that rounded shoulders, rounded upper back (kyphosis), forward head posture plus a distended abdominal wall is poor posture and thus disrupts breathing patterns.

While consciously over correcting your posture can do the same thing, these people will hold the abdominal wall tight as if it were armor or trying to look thin. The common dysfunctional breathing patterns that are found with both posture holding patterns is chest/mouth breathing or an inverted breathing pattern.

Posture is not the only factor that affects breathing; stress, an unbalanced workout program, lack of sleep, eating processed, pesticide laden foods, being dehydrated will also affect the way you breathe.

The diaphragm is the principle muscle for breathing and in general it is not being used or is not being taught properly how to be used. Just take a deep breath in right now and feel what just happened. You may have noticed that your shoulders rise up towards ears, neck muscles became over active, chest lifts up and abdominal wall either tightens up or you suck them up.

This is not the proper way to breathe whether or not you felt it was a slow, ‘relaxed’ breath. Even though the breath was exaggerated here, you breathe like this during the day, all day, and you take around 25,900 breaths/day, exactly like this, which stimulates the Sympathetic Nervous System, which is the body’s natural ‘fight or flight” response; perpetuates tension headaches and/or neck/shoulder problems, because you are over utilizing accessory respiratory muscles instead of using the principle respiratory muscle—the diaphragm.

It doesn’t matter if you think the breath is slow and relaxed, if you feel your chest and shoulders rise and abdominal tighten and diaphragm does not move like a piston up and down, it’s not right.

Or if you’re taking a belly breath and you feel nothing except that you can’t get a full breathe then that one isn’t right either.The diaphragm sits under the heart and above the belly button, when the diaphragm contracts it creates a negative pressure in the chest cavity resulting in an inhale.

The diaphragm is dome-shaped (convex) towards the heart, when we inhale the diaphragm moves down in to abdominal wall, this is what pushes the abdominal wall out; massages and maintains motility of the internal organs; when we exhale the diaphragm moves back up towards heart and the belly moves back in.

Sit or stand with optimal posture; chest is lifted, shoulders back and pull the head back; position of head is key when correcting the breath; don’t go after a long inhale or exhale, just establish a normal breathing pattern and release the tension at the abdominal wall. You’ll notice that the abdominals do not have to expand as far, chest/shoulders barely rise and no tension felt in the neck. Not only is the diaphragm the principle muscle for breathing, it also helps in stabilizing the lumbar spine because of attachments at L2 and L3.

When we inhale and using the diaphragm it will help decompress the lumbar spine while aiding in stabilizing L4 & L5, most disc problems occur at L4, L5 and S1.Women will tell me that this is counter intuitive; well that is way off base.

We were born with the ability of using the diaphragm, just watch children before we put them behind desk and computers. Women (some men) have conditioned themselves to think that you hold the abdominals in to look thin or to even train them. You are training your abdominal and breathing patterns to be completely dysfunctional. With the chronic chest breathing or inverted breathing you are over relying on accessory respiratory muscles (neck and shoulders) to lift the rib cage and ALL its contents.

This will create a slew of problems, the list is endless. Using the diaphragm as it was designed in one of the simplest, more powerful health and energy-giving disciplines you can practice.

So are you using your diaphragm and breathing properly?

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