On average, a person at rest takes about 16 breaths per minute. This means we breathe about 960 breaths an hour, 23,040 breaths a day, 8,409,600 a year. This doesn’t include an increase in breathing during exercise and physical activity. How many times do you think about the breath you’re taking? What if I told you that how you breathe can affect how you feel and perform on a daily basis?
Normal breathing mechanics play a key role in posture and spinal stabilization. Breathing Pattern Disorders (BPD) have been shown to contribute to pain and motor control deficits, which can result in dysfunctional movement patterns.
The primary muscle responsible for breathing is your diaphragm. As you inhale your diaphragm contracts and increases the space in your chest cavity to allow the lungs to expand and fill with air. Over time the action of the diaphragm can be altered through faulty breathing mechanics or prolonged postures that put our bodies in vulnerable positions. When the diaphragm can’t properly function, our accessory breathing muscles take over. These include the muscles in your neck, chest, and upper back. They aren’t meant to take the full responsibility and begin to become overactive and tight. This can lead to increased pain sensitivity and altered movement patterns that stress other areas of the body including the neck/shoulders, low back, and hips.
Here’s a quick test: Lay on your back with your knees bent and place one hand on your chest with the other on your stomach. Take a breath in and feel which hand rises the most. If the hand on your chest rises more than your stomach, then you are under utilizing the diaphragm and your accessory muscles are taking on more work. Over time this could create additional stress on your body and lead to pain or discomfort.
At Naples Personal Training we can assess your breathing and offer suggestions/exercises to help improve or restore normal breathing patterns. Give us a call today to schedule a free assessment.