Deep breathing has helped me in my own healing journey and the people I take care of on a daily basis at the office. How many times have you heard “just take a deep breath”? You might listen and do it at the moment, but do you know why it is good for you, and how to do it correctly?
First, it is important for full oxygen exchange—when oxygen comes in and carbon dioxide goes out. Breathing oxygen in will help cleanse the body and bring energy to every single cell and breathing out carbon dioxide will help eliminate waste from the body.
If you watch other people breathe you most likely notice that their chest rises when they breathe. This is called shallow breathing, and most people breathe this way the majority of their day. When you breathe only with your chest, you will mostly use your chest, shoulder, and neck muscles. This creates tension in the upper body which can lead to forward head posture and slumped forward shoulders. This can lead to neck pain and headaches.
When you watch a baby breathe you will see their belly rise first. They use the diaphragm and belly to breathe in and out, which is the correct way to breathe.
Deep breathing releases a hormone called endorphin. Endorphins are natural pain and stress relievers. Deep breathing also helps lower blood pressure, reduce heart rate, relax muscles, and increase energy levels.
But why is it we don’t breathe deeply like we did as children? Increased stress, hunching over desks for long periods, and the feeling that we need to keep our stomach flat at all times is at cause here.
As a chiropractor, I teach people to breathe all the way down the spine because that will help them release tension and receive a better adjustment. When we have pain, we tend to not breathe into that area because it hurts. Breathing deeply into the area will actually help with the healing process.
A good way to practice deep breathing is to lie on your back with one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest. You should take a deep breath in through your nose, and only the hand on your stomach should rise. Then you breathe out through the mouth and the hand on your stomach should fall. The hand on your chest should be still the entire time, shoulders should lay flat on the floor, and neck muscles should be relaxed. This will be a difficult task if you have never done this before, but stick with it and it will get easier. When you get better, it will be easier to use deep breathing throughout your day, and without having to lie down each time.
Chiropractic care can help you develop better breathing technique. The lungs require proper nerve function to be fully functional, and chiropractic can help to remove misalignments in the spine that can interfere with the nerve signals. Spinal mobility is important for proper posture, movement of the body as a whole, and efficient breathing.