Here at LEAR we take a full assessment approach including looking at your breathing. Breathing is an important function of life which helps to transport oxygen to our body, maintain our pH and keep our heart pumping!
When we breathe we want to make sure we utilise the full lung capacity and not just breathe through the top of our lungs. We tend to use more accessory muscles and tense up more when we just use the top of our lungs and this can lead to secondary issues such as rib cage restriction, muscle tension and pain. This is why breathing exercises can be so useful in musculoskeletal pain to help reduce tension.
A good way of checking if you are breathing correctly is to put a hand of your chest and a hand on your tummy. Take a few deeper breath cycles here. You want to feel the hand on your tummy move more than the top hand on your chest. The tummy should rise and fall whereas the chest and shoulders remain fairly relaxed and still. This shows that the lungs are inflating fully and you are using the lung volume that is available to you. It also means that the diaphragm, the lung muscle, gets worked properly. The diaphragm forms the top of our ‘core cylinder’ and is essential for our core activation. The diaphragm changes shape as we breathe supporting the air entry and exit. As we exhale it domes upwards. This helps to reinforce the core, together with the pelvic floor and the reason we do the challenging movement on the exhale when we exercise. This is one of the reasons that with our new mummies we take extra care to look at the breathing patterns as a proper breath means better activation of the pelvic floor!
We will always guide you in how to use your breathing when you exercise and we will make sure to assess how you breathe in your health assessment to give you any pointers or advice that can help you get the most out of your exercise.
The benefits of breathing well and deeply include reduced stress, relaxation, improves circulation (really important for anyone with lymphedema or risk of) and helps our mental health. The good thing is – we can all do it!