In part one, (see: https://www.advancedwellnessrva.com/blog/326342-take-a-deep-breath-part-1) we discussed the general importance of proper breathing as it touches movement and function.
So, how can we improve our breathing? Many of us naturally fall into breathing patterns reflective of many variables such as our own body structure, air flow capability (allergies, sickness) stressors, body positioning and movement variability. Therefore, it would be good to schedule an appointment (schedule here: https://local.demandforce.com/b/advancedwellnessrichmond/schedule widget=1&d3cp_exid=advancedwellnessrichmond&d3cp_source=My%2520Website)
to be assessed and learn what movement patterns could be contributing to your breathing issues, but there are a few steps that you can take at home to improve your breathing now.
One main principle is to breathe from the diaphragm. When the diaphragm muscle descends, it pushes our viscera (or “guts”) downward and expands in three dimensions (forward, backward, and sideways), as shown here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1nUv9P2eDA. So, just like our other movement approaches here at Advanced Wellness Centre, we want to try to approximate the optimal pattern, as dictated by our body’s design.
Try this basic exercise while sitting in your chair. Put each of your hands in a “C” shape and place the fingers on your stomach, the thumbs on your lower back, as if you were trying to measure your waistline with your hands. As you breathe in, you *should* feel the abdomen and lower back press into your fingers and thumb *before the chest begins to rise*. This
means that the diaphragm is pushing down and out to fill the lungs.
Instead, you may feel the waistline get slimmer or stay the same as you inhale while your chest rises first, which indicates that you are using your neck and shoulder muscles to breathe! Over time this can create muscle tension and even pain in the neck, headaches, and limited shoulder motion. So practice learn to “press into your fingers” first as you
inhale. Here is another exercise: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1Me3bMx5Dc. Try while lying on the
floor. Focus on pressing lower back into the floor as well on this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1Me3bMx5Dc.
Finally, getting all of the CO2 out of the lungs is as important as getting O2 into them. Practice doing a full exhale until your lungs are totally empty and holding this full exhale for 5 seconds. Difficult? Keep practicing. You should be able to hold a full exhale for around ten seconds. This can also help improve the tone of your abdominals while “resetting” your diaphragm position for the next breath.
Got it? Now do both together! You can use these as two great stress relievers and retraining exercises whenever you take a break at work, too.
Due to all of the many contributors mentioned before, these steps may or may not allow the breathing to “stick,” so feel free to check into your movement by scheduling an appointment with us using the link below!