Paul E. Colosky Jr., MPT, ATC, CSCS
One of the most important things you do is breath. Do you know that you take more than 200,000 breaths per day? Without food, you can live a few weeks, without water, you can live for a few days. But without breathing, you can only last a few minutes. Breathing keeps us alive. But what you might not know is that how you breathe may either improve or deteriorate your quality of life. If you have chronic pain, mental fogginess, feel lethargic, stress and/or tension, you may not helping yourself get better, because you are just not breathing properly.
When you breathe, it affects all aspects of your body. It oxygenates your body, restores organs, cells and tissues. When you inhale, the oxygen is forced into your blood stream, which revitalizes your body. When you exhale, it carries out the toxins from your system. Essentially breathing helps your body live and re-live.
So let’s talk about what Proper versus Improper Breathing will do for our bodies.
Proper Breathing Improper Breathing
Reduces Stress and tension Increase Anxiety
Strengthens the immune system Weakens our immune system
Improves our focus and concentration Forgetfulness
Eliminates toxins Irritable bowel, digestive issues
Increases metabolism Can cause headaches, neck, & shoulder pain
Helps with digestion and weight loss Can cause numbness/dizziness
Helps reduce pain Increase pain
Helps prevent and eliminate wrinkles
Promotes body healing
How do you know you are properly breathing versus improperly breathing?
Improper breathing is small rapid breaths that use our chest muscles. You will feel slight movement in your chest only. Since the breaths are shallow, you don’t feel like you get enough oxygen through your lungs. Therefore, you tend to breathe faster. Proper breathing is long and deep breaths that are using your larger abdominal muscles. When you breathe properly, you feel most of the movement in your abdominals. Since you take deeper breathes, you feel calmer and don’t find the need to breathe rapidly. To test your breathing, lie down with your knees bent comfortably. You can test sitting up, but it is easier seeing movements in your chest or abdomen move while lying down. Place one hand on your abdomen and one hand on your chest. Breathe like you normally do, and see which hand rises up and down more. If you find that the hand on your abdomen moves more, you are breath properly. If you find that the hand on your chest moves more, you are breathing improperly and should practice breathing properly.
To practice proper breathing:
· Lie down on your back with knees bent. If you prefer to sit, that works as well.
· Place your hand on your abdomen.
· Take a deep breath in through your nose (4 seconds) using your abdominal muscles. You should see your hand rise up as you breathe. Hold your breath for 3 seconds.
· Then push all the air out through your mouth (8 seconds). You should feel like you are pushing the air out with your abdomen. It is important to let all the air out by tightening your abdominal muscles, so that you can have a deeper and more effective inhalation next time.
Practice this daily for 5 minutes. Try to do it at least twice a day. Your breathing can be properly trained. Breathing is one the body’s basic function. Once you trained yourself to breath properly, you may find yourself feeling better, with less physical pain, being able to concentrate on work better and even losing weight faster. So start breathing better today!
If you need any coaching on these techniques or are unsure if you are doing them correctly contact Valeo Physical Therapy 877-488-1990 and schedule a FREE consultation to breath easy.