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Take a Deep Breath

This is the follow up to a the previous blog “Bad Posture is the Root to Chronic Pain” and the 1st of 3 steps for good posture.

The thoracic diaphragm is the primary breathing muscle and the foundation upon which good posture is built. At rest, a breath should come completely from the diaphragm. The intercostals, the muscles between the ribs, should only engage with effort. Long hours sitting can contribute to quick, shallow chest breathing and as a society we are breathing faster than we ever have before.

Slow, deep diaphragmatic breathing, as used in yoga and meditation, has been shown to decrease various health problems, such as migraines, chronic pain, asthma, COPD, diabetes, constipation, motion sickness, help manage stress and emotional states as well as improve athletic performance.

The reason why proper breathing can have such wide ranging affect on our health is that not only does the diaphragm pull air into the lungs, it also acts as our main pump to circulate blood throughout the body, importantly improving blood flow to the organs and maintaining proper pressure in the various body cavities. Good blood flow and proper pressure is vital to good health.

deep breathingDiaphragmatic Breathing – 6 Breaths Per Minute

– Lie flat on your back with your legs bent.

– Breath in through your nose, out through your mouth

– As you breath in, visualize your diaphragm lowering towards your feet to pull air into your stomach.

– There should be no movement through your rib cage.

  • As you exhale your lower ribs should close / flatten as your diaphragm rises towards your head.
  • Try to breath at a rate of 6 breaths per minute (5 seconds inhale & 5 seconds exhale).
  • If possible perform Diaphragmatic Breathing for 20-30 minutes at least once a day, before you go to bed or while commuting are good times.
  • As well perform Diaphragmatic Breathing multiple 1 minute or longer sessions each day, building towards 50 times a day if possible.
Important notes
  • Quality of exercise is much more important than quantity. If you cannot breath in or out properly for the full 5 seconds, you should breath as long as you can with out the rib cage moving. As you continue to practice your breathing you will gradually improve.
  • The exhale is more important than the inhale during moments of high stress, physical or emotional.
  • When working out, breathe out forcefully when you push.
  • When running, focus on breathing out hard rather than on breathing in
  • A 20 minute walk incorporating Diaphragmatic Breathing as slowly as comfortable every day is an easy way to maintain good cardiovascular health.

 

Matthew Heron

Intern in Osteopathy