As you sit here reading this blog, you're breathing. This in-and-out travel of oxygen-rich air into your lungs is what powers your body. Yet, we do it so subconsciously we most likely pay it no mind.
We won't bore you with the details of how your lungs expand or the chemical reaction that occurs. But, one fun fact we will share is that proper breathing actually helps your posture.
Yes, the way in which you take in air and expel it from your body can actually impact your posture. Keep reading to discover the how, why, and what you can do to improve it.
Breathing and the Body
From helping to regulate important functions such as heart rate and blood pressure to reducing stress, the way you breathe can affect your entire body. Breathing patterns can also reinforce proper body mechanics that put less stress on your body as you move.
When you inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, you're doing what's known as deep breathing. Deep breathing, also known as abdominal or belly breathing, has a variety of health benefits, including promoting better blood flow and releasing toxins from the body. While there is no real "right and wrong" of breathing - it's something you must do to survive - there is, like most other bodily functions, a more healthy way of doing it.
In this case, deep breathing is the most effective and healthiest method of getting oxygen into your body. In addition to the health benefits we've already listed, deep breathing is also responsible for strengthening the respiratory muscles which keep your lungs running.
The Effects of Shallow Breathing
Whereas deep breathing is the most effective method of getting oxygen into the body, that doesn't mean it's always our go-to method. Nowadays we're always in a rush to get somewhere or to do something, while our work lives often have us stationary at a desk. This fast pace in conjunction with a sedentary work environment have caused us to learn to take only quick, shallow breaths as opposed to deep, belly breaths.
As time goes on, this shallow breathing weakens the strength of respiratory muscles. In turn, this lessens the support for the T1 - T12 vertebrae located in the thoracic spine. It also creates tension in the upper body, thus negatively affecting our posture.
Posture and Breathing
When tension is created in the upper back, our body's typical defense is to stoop forward to relieve the body of stress. Though this might feel good in the moment, this is the worst method of relief to find. That's because the more you condition yourself to stoop forward, the more your body will adapt to that position. Without the necessary support of respiratory muscles, the thoracic vertebra offers little resistance to this new position.
What ultimately occurs is a more curved, hunched posture. The more your body only takes in short, shallow gulps of air, the weaker the muscles become and more tension your body carries. In turn, the worse your posture can become. The negative effects of poor posture include:
- Worsened stress and depression
- Digestive issues
- Tension headaches
- Back and shoulder pain
What Can Be Done?
If you've read through this blog and are concerned that shallow breathing may be the reason behind your poor posture or current pain problems, there is still an opportunity to help correct this damage. At ChiroCare of Florida, our chiropractors are trained in both postural correction as well as in proper breathing techniques. It's never too late to train your body to operate in a more effective, healthy manner.
Call ChiroCare of Florida at (877)377-4448 today to schedule your appointment.