Is poor breathing causing you pain?
I am sure everyone has heard the phrase “now take a deep breath and just relax” when faced with an anxiety provoking situation. The truth is that there is more pertinence to this statement than you may realise.
When a person is under stress, their breathing pattern changes. Typically, an anxious person takes small, shallow breaths, using their shoulders rather than their diaphragm to move air in and out of their lungs. Ideally once the immediate threat dissipates, breathing will return to normal.
Unfortunately due to the daily stress in our lives in 2017, shallow over-breathing becomes a habit. Because the incorrect muscles are working to breathe, muscle tension increases and this can result in many symptoms ranging from lower back and neck pain, headaches, severe anxiety and difficulty breathing.
Controlling your breathing can help to improve some of these symptoms by restoring a better balance of oxygen in the body as well as muscle relaxation.
There are different breathing techniques to bring about relaxation depending on what habitual pattern one has developed. In essence, the aim is to distribute your inhaled air throughout the lungs instead of just your chest or your tummy. If you are struggling to find your relaxed breathing pattern or need help with cues and tactile feedback there are many trained practitioners: a physiotherapist, hypnotherapist, psychologist as well as Feldenkrais, meditation and yoga instructors.
Remember that in order to relax you will need a quiet, relaxed environment where you won’t be disturbed for 10 to 20 minutes. Set an alarm if you don’t want to lose track of time. Most importantly is to regularly “check in” with your body and just make sure you are not holding your breath!
In August, our physiotherapist, Sheri Greenstein, will be holding a free breathing workshop at 557 so keep your eyes peeled for further information.