My thoughts on breathing...
A bit more information as it occurs to me about how breathing impacts your health and well-being. If you have questions or want me to address a particular topic, please don't hesitate to contact me!
I am very excited to have just booked a course with Mary Massery, a physical therapists out of the United States, who would arguably be the leading expert in breathing and movement. Her main focus is the influence of breathing on posture mechanics and how if you can't breathe, you can't move. And she is quite right. I am often referred people whose main complaint is that they seem to get out of breath quite quickly with activity. They aren't able to coordinate both movement and breathing. Sometimes when I am working with patients with low back pain, I see them hold their breath to move. They haven't got the right stabilization pattern, so use their breath to create pressure within the abdomen to create that stability.
Mary points out some interesting things with regards to breathing and movement. And the funny thing is, is if you are paying attention, it's quite obvious how we regulate breathing and movement. Try this first example. Stand up from your chair. We are going to sit back down in the chair, so make sure you can do that safely. So, again, stand up. Breathe out (like a sigh) as you sit down. Now, if I had yelled out "oh, don't sit there, there's gum on the chair!" would you have been able to reverse direction easily? Likely not. With that sigh out, you were sitting down without much control. This time, stand up. Take a breath in, hold it and start to sit down, just before you sit down, let your air out. Once again, you probably plopped down in your chair, and there was no way you were going to stop part way down. Now this time, stand up. We are going to use breathing and vocal management to provide a bit more stability to your movement. Take a breath in, and as you lower yourself down, count quite loudly to seven. What did you notice this time? A bit more stable and controlled, right? If I shouted not to sit down, you would have been able to reverse your direction, right? And the only thing we changed was breath control.
Here's another interesting trick. Stand up again. Raise your arms up over your head. Bring them down. Repeat this a few times (your elbows should remain straight through this). What do you notice happens with your breathing? That's right, as you raise your arms up, you breathe in. Now this time, breathe out as you raise your arms up. Repeat it a couple of times. What happens now? Not nearly the same range of motion is there? And it probably feels a bit stiff to do so. Again, all we changed was the way we were breathing.
So for those of you who think breathing issues are only for those who feel short of breath, maybe breathing issues are also for those of you who are having trouble with moving. Yep, that means you with the sore back. And you with the chronic shoulder pain. And you with the stiff neck. And you...
I'm a physiotherapist who is passionate about educating anyone and everyone about the impact breathing has on our health.