Health and Posture Benefits of Breathing 

Health and Posture Benefits of Breathing by Elmira Family Chiropractic

Every breath you take and every move you make, is controlled by your brain and nervous system. Breathing is something that you do automatically without much thought, as it is controlled by the autonomic (i.e. automatic) nervous system. But did you know that breathing can also be consciously controlled and proper breathing can significantly impact your overall health and posture?

Studies show that proper breathing positively influences your physical, mental and emotional health. So, what is proper breathing?

Improper vs Proper Breathing

Improper breathing, also known as chest breathing, involves shallow breathing using the upper lung fields. Often the neck muscles and upper back are engaged as the shoulders rise and expansion happens in the upper back. Improper breathing can be very taxing on the body and nervous system and is not efficient. It requires more energy and only partially fills the lungs with air, as the oxygen does not reach the lower lobes of the lungs. 

This type of breathing can decrease oxygen flow and contribute to mental health issues such as anxiety, stress and fatigue. It can also lead to chronic muscle tension and poor posture.

Proper breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing or chest breathing, is a deeper and rhythmic breathing where breathe is taken in through the nose and down deeper into the lungs through use of the diaphragm. When you breathe in the stomach should rise, the sides of your abdomen should expand and also your lower back. There should be 360 degrees of expansion around your core, with minimal rise of the shoulders as the chest and neck muscles should not be tightening up. This type of breathing is more passive, meaning it requires less energy to do and is also more efficient at oxygenating the body, relaxing the nervous system and improving your posture.

If you have been breathing improperly for a long time, it may take some conscious effort to establish this type of breathing. However, the more you practice, the more it will become second nature as you return to normal physiological breath patterns.

What are the Benefits of Proper Breathing?

Better Posture

Improper breathing creates stress and tension in the upper back and neck leading to a flexed/stressed posture. Proper diaphragmatic breathing, opens up your posture as it engages your core and elongates the spine. This reduces tension throughout your body and creates more space for your organs to function.

Improved Lung Capacity

When you breathe deeply using your diaphragm, your lungs expand more, which allows oxygen to readily perfuse into your body and releases carbon dioxide. This improves lung capacity and overall respiratory function which can help improve endurance during exercise. 

Digestion Improvement

By breathing correctly and engaging your diaphragm, it can help stimulate the digestive system and improve the movement of food through your digestive tract. Diaphragmatic breathing signals your brain to activate the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The PNS is responsible for the ‘rest and digest’ functions of the body. This helps stimulate gastric function and motility of the intestines. As well, the rhythmic contraction and relaxation of the diaphragm and abdominal muscles massages the gastrointestinal tract helping to move food along and bring more blood flow to aid in digestion. All of this combined can help enhance the absorption of nutrients and reduce bloating and constipation.

Improved Sleep

Proper breathing allows your body to relax easier and reach restful sleep. As your PNS activates it slows down your breathing and heart rate and prepares your body to rest. It also promotes feelings of calm and can help quiet racing thoughts which may prevent you from falling asleep. 

Tips on How to Breathe Better

  • Take 5 minutes before bed every night and lie on your back with your hands at your waist and breathe deeply. Feel for your stomach, sides and back expanding. Connect with each breathe and let the tension drop in your shoulders, back and throughout your body. Your shoulders should not rise much and the muscles on the sides of your neck should not be tight.
  • Check in throughout the day to see if you are breathing with your belly. Many people stop breathing or breathe shallow when they are busy or stressed. If you need a reminder set an alarm on your phone every 30 minutes till it become more innately guided.
  • Work on elongating your posture and keeping your shoulders back and down. You want to keep your chest up and open.
  • Practice yoga, meditation or other forms of mindfulness which incorporate breathing.
  • Talk to your chiropractor as this is something we assess because your breathe is an important marker in the overall function of your nervous system. When you are well adjusted it improves respiratory function and allows you to open up and breathe more freely.

To see Dr. Sarah demonstrating proper breathing mechanics, click here

Everything you do requires you to use your lungs. Take the time to be aware of your beautiful breath and connect with your body, mind and spirit. With practice you can breathe easier, feel less stressed, and enjoy more energy!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Contents © Elmira Family Chiropractic
Created by Gecko Websites
Scroll to Top