Why is breathing properly important?

Consensus on why breathing is important never really passes the basic concept that it is a function of life. Breathing or respiration is the basic exchange of gases that allows us to provide our body with the source of oxygen it needs. However is there more to breathing than meets the eye? Can it change a person’s basic function? If done wrong can it cause harm/imbalance?

Surprisingly, how it’s performed can affect both mind and body. Mood, stress levels, concentration and sleep can be affected by the pattern and the rate of breaths. In addition, respiration can also influence body systems such as the nervous system, circulatory system and even aspects of the digestive system. Muscle tension can also be altered as chest breathing increases the strain on the neck, shoulders and upper portion of the torso. In contrast, correct breathing technique can improve stress and anxiety levels, energy levels, relationships and prevent illness.

Most of us conform to the defined “normal”, which involves using short breaths and holding the stomach in because we like to look thinner. When we are stressed our bodies respond by putting us in a sense of fight or flight, we round our shoulders and start taking shorter more regular breaths through our chest. Many issues are caused due to encouraging this mental/emotional stressed state into become our norm. Incorrect respiration continues to signal to our nervous system that the body is stressed. This in turn, will lead to the body to respond by breathing in this manner…. It’s a vicious cycle!

Tips to get your breathing back on track

  1. Breathe through your nose – your nose has hairs inside it that act as an air filtration system getting rid of unwanted bacteria and dust particles. Breathing through your nose leads to and encourages a deeper, calmer style of breathing. This will prevent further stress signals being sent to the nervous system.
  2. Breathe through your Diaphragm/abdomen – the Diaphragm is designed to be the main muscle in respiration. Using it will induce relaxation and take pressure off the muscle groups in the neck and shoulders. The easy way to feel if you are doing this is to put one hand on your stomach and the other on the chest. Which ever hand moves is an indicator that you use the area more.
  3. Extend how long you breathe out – Our body will subconsciously match our breathing rhythm to a longer slow exhale. As a result it will maximise the amount of oxygen and waste gases are exchanged in the lungs.
  4. Straighten Up! – posture plays a big role in how we breathe. So straighten the back, open the chest and relax through your neck and shoulders. Easy way to open the chest is to squeeze the bottom of your shoulder blades together. Receiving chiropractic adjustments will aid in providing increased mobility in the spine to allow better posture.