Do you pay attention to your breathing, or do you take this life-sustaining process for granted? Most people don’t think about it, yet breathing involves more than transferring air in and out of your body. Breathing and your spine and posture are linked. Let’s explore how with a quick exercise.
Sit up straight, take a deep breath in and allow your belly to relax outwards as you do. Notice how this feels. Now drop your chin towards your chest and round your back so that you're slouching forwards. Take a deep breath in. How do the two exercises compare? It’s much harder to fill your lungs when you’re slumped, isn’t it? Poor posture limits your breathing ability.
Your diaphragm is the main muscle that helps you breathe. It’s connected to two lumbar vertebrae in your lower back. This part of your spine is connected to the rest of your spine by ligaments and muscles. Because of this connection, breathing correctly likely affects your spine.
Each of your ribs connects to your spine at joints, and small movements occur at these joints as you breathe. These movements are encouraged by breathing correctly. Without motion, joints may contract or break down, and inflammation and back pain may occur.
So, how can you breathe well? Diaphragmatic breathing, also called belly breathing, might help to relax the spine and the muscles around it by releasing tension. Here’s one exercise you can easily repeat throughout the day, no matter what job you have or how busy you are.
Make sure your bottom is at the back of your chair. Sit straight, look forward and keep your head level. Relax your shoulders, neck and core muscles. Take a slow, deep breath in, allow your belly to extend, your rib cage to rise, and your lungs to fill. After taking a full breath, exhale slowly. Let your ribcage fall while keeping your posture straight.
How you breathe affects your health. Practicing good technique and posture may relax muscle tension, ease pain, and improve spinal function. Ask our chiropractor if you have any questions or would like advice.