Restoration Physical Therapy
Photo representing Better Breathing Benefits the Body

Better breathing Benefits the Body

Improving your breathing ability can make a big difference in pain control, healing response, relaxation, energy level and vibrancy. Learn simple exercises to develop better breathing.

Breathing is foundational to life and health. It is the first thing we do on our own that proclaims we are alive. However, many of us take breathing for granted. It is under autonomic control. Therefore we do not need to think about making ourselves breathe.

Many people take shallow breaths throughout the day. The good news is that with conscious effort, better breathing can be realized.

Benefits of better breathing include:

  • pain relief
  • reduces muscular tension
  • induces a relaxation response
  • decreases anxiety
  • boosts the immune system,
  • helps with digestion, and
  • brings clarity to the mind.

Strength, Structure, and Flexibility

Rib cage better breathingThe ribcage is strong to protect vital internal organs. With the spine in the back, the sternum in the front (red) and the ribs on each side, it provides a protective cage for the heart and lungs.  In addition, it provides a structural framework for attachment of many muscles of the shoulder, neck and torso.

Furthermore, it has flexibility.  This allows for the lungs to inflate and deflate. The ribcage opens much like an umbrella. This allows for a spherical, 360-degree expansion of full respiration. More specifically, it opens in the front, sides, and back to accommodate full and deep breathing.

The ribcage consists of 12 ribs. They attach to the spine in the back. However, there is a variability in the front.

  • Ribs 1-7 attach directly to the sternum (breastbone) via the costal cartilage and are called true ribs.
  • Ribs 8-10 are called false ribs and connect indirectly to the sternum via their costal cartilage.
  • Ribs 11-12 are called floating ribs and do not have any attachment in the front. If you palpate into your sides just above your waist, you can feel the pointy ends of the floating ribs.

The capacity for better breathing is built into the design and structure of the ribcage.

Ribcage Positioning

Where is your ribcage positioned in relation to your pelvis?  Why does this even matter?

If it is in an “inhalation pattern,” the chest is high in the front with the spine arched backwards?

An example of this is the military posture. Remember how mom always said, “Stand up straight!” Arching your upper back accomplishes this. On the other hand, it causes the the spine to get stuck in extension, losing important flexibility with each passing decade. In like manner, the diaphragm does not fully expand in the sides and back. Full exhalation is limited as the diaphragm is restricted in an inhalation pattern.

In contrast, there is the exhalation posture pattern. To put it another way, it looks much like a hunched posture. The chest is sunk in, the upper back is rounded and little breath occurs in the sides and front. Working to develop more inspiration is key with this postural habit.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Many people breathe in their upper chest using the muscles in the front and sides of the neck.

In contrast, a better breathing technique is to use the diaphragm. It is more efficient, thereby using less energy and increasing breathing capacity. The diaphragm is the large smooth muscle that separates the chest cavity from the abdominal contents. Watch this video as it beautifully depicts 360 degree movement of the ribcage with each breath.

Test Yourself

Take some time and assess your breathing pattern. Right now! Truly, you will learn a lot about your breathing habits.

  1. Place one hand on your upper chest near your neck and the other on your belly. Be present. Where do you feel movement under your hands? Do you feel more upper chest movement? Alternatively, do you feel the belly rise with your inhale and fall gently with your exhale?
  2. Next, place your hands on the sides of your ribcage. Try to feel the outward (bucket handle) movement of the outer ribcage? As the video above illustrates, the diaphragm is a dome that wraps all the way around to the back. As a result, inhaling into your sides is built into your body.
  3. How about the movement in your back?  Take some time to assess movement alongside your spine.
  4. Lastly, place your hand on your breastbone. Can you feel the old-fashioned pump handle movement of the sternum as it rises with each breath? Just the placement of your hand and focused attention to that area will improve the movement of the ribs and you will notice yourself able to take a larger breath

old fashioned pump better breathing.

Breathing Exercise: Pump Handle Sternal Movement

Here is an easy way to encourage sternal breathing.

  1. Assume a standing or sitting posture.
  2. Lift your shoulders up towards your ears as you inhale.
  3. Roll your shoulders back and down as you exhale.
  4. Keep your shoulder blades in this new position (down and back) and take another deep breath. You should feel your sternum (breastbone) rise and fall with greater excursion.

Yamuna Body Rolling

Yamuna Body Rolling uses a simple tool, a specialized Yamuna ball, to give sensory input to your ribcage. This technique empowers you to create structural changes in your ribcage to improve breathing. It encourages movement in the rigid parts of the ribcage. As a result, it creates 3-dimensional breathing and a fuller, deeper breath.

This is accomplished by

  • using your body weight over the Yamuna ball,
  • focused breathing,
  • performing specialized routines on the ribcage
  • and a little time and effort.

Breathing Exercise: Bucket Handle Ribcage Movement

Watch this short video to view how Yamuna Body Rolling promotes movement in the sides of the ribcage.


Other Ways to Promote Better Breathing

Changing your brain: Get outside in nature.

Take a Walk

Taking a walk or exercising will naturally increase your breathing capacity. Your body requires more oxygen for the activity, so you naturally breathe deeper to meet the demand.

Yoga

Yoga, with attention on breath with each pose, is one example. A good instructor will prompt you with instruction on when to inhale and exhale with specific movements.

Bowenwork

Many of the basic relaxation moves are performed on the spine. These influence the spinal nerves that affect the autonomic nervous system. Moves around the shoulder blade help to release tension.

The gentle Bowenwork moves help the body achieve

  • a deep relaxation response,
  • a noticeable improvement in breathing
  • and relaxation of the muscles of the shoulder girdle, neck and diaphragm.

Build Breathing into your Life

Integrating conscious breathing into everyday activities is key to long lasting results. Be present. Take time to notice your breathing.

Are you holding your breath when exerting yourself. For example, do you hold your breath when ascending stairs or going from sit to stand?

When you are driving your car or standing in the grocery line, tune in to your breath.  Focus on taking a few deep breaths in that moment.

What about when you are stressed. Deep breathing is a proven solution to bring calm back to the body during stressful times.

In conclusion, take time for conscious breathing, posture checks, and proper movement patterns throughout the day. Consequently, this will make a big difference with pain control, healing response, relaxation, energy level and vibrancy. Life can be a lot easier as we learn better breathing habits.


“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. “ Psalm 150:6

Categories: Breathing Exercise
Post by Mary Falk PT on June 27, 2013

Better Breathing Benefits the Body

Improving your breathing ability can make a big difference in pain control, healing response, relaxation, energy level and vibrancy. Learn simple exercises to develop better breathing.

Better breathing

Breathing is foundational to life and health. It is the first thing we do on our own that proclaims we are alive. However, many of us take breathing for granted. It is under autonomic control. Therefore we do not need to think about making ourselves breathe.

Many people take shallow breaths throughout the day. The good news is that with conscious effort, better breathing can be realized.

Benefits of better breathing include:

  • pain relief
  • reduces muscular tension
  • induces a relaxation response
  • decreases anxiety
  • boosts the immune system,
  • helps with digestion, and
  • brings clarity to the mind.

Strength, Structure, and Flexibility

Rib cage better breathingThe ribcage is strong to protect vital internal organs. With the spine in the back, the sternum in the front (red) and the ribs on each side, it provides a protective cage for the heart and lungs.  In addition, it provides a structural framework for attachment of many muscles of the shoulder, neck and torso.

Furthermore, it has flexibility.  This allows for the lungs to inflate and deflate. The ribcage opens much like an umbrella. This allows for a spherical, 360-degree expansion of full respiration. More specifically, it opens in the front, sides, and back to accommodate full and deep breathing.

The ribcage consists of 12 ribs. They attach to the spine in the back. However, there is a variability in the front.

  • Ribs 1-7 attach directly to the sternum (breastbone) via the costal cartilage and are called true ribs.
  • Ribs 8-10 are called false ribs and connect indirectly to the sternum via their costal cartilage.
  • Ribs 11-12 are called floating ribs and do not have any attachment in the front. If you palpate into your sides just above your waist, you can feel the pointy ends of the floating ribs.

The capacity for better breathing is built into the design and structure of the ribcage.

Ribcage Positioning

Where is your ribcage positioned in relation to your pelvis?  Why does this even matter?

If it is in an “inhalation pattern,” the chest is high in the front with the spine arched backwards?

An example of this is the military posture. Remember how mom always said, “Stand up straight!” Arching your upper back accomplishes this. On the other hand, it causes the the spine to get stuck in extension, losing important flexibility with each passing decade. In like manner, the diaphragm does not fully expand in the sides and back. Full exhalation is limited as the diaphragm is restricted in an inhalation pattern.

In contrast, there is the exhalation posture pattern. To put it another way, it looks much like a hunched posture. The chest is sunk in, the upper back is rounded and little breath occurs in the sides and front. Working to develop more inspiration is key with this postural habit.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Many people breathe in their upper chest using the muscles in the front and sides of the neck.

In contrast, a better breathing technique is to use the diaphragm. It is more efficient, thereby using less energy and increasing breathing capacity. The diaphragm is the large smooth muscle that separates the chest cavity from the abdominal contents. Watch this video as it beautifully depicts 360 degree movement of the ribcage with each breath.

Test Yourself

Take some time and assess your breathing pattern. Right now! Truly, you will learn a lot about your breathing habits.

  1. Place one hand on your upper chest near your neck and the other on your belly. Be present. Where do you feel movement under your hands? Do you feel more upper chest movement? Alternatively, do you feel the belly rise with your inhale and fall gently with your exhale?
  2. Next, place your hands on the sides of your ribcage. Try to feel the outward (bucket handle) movement of the outer ribcage? As the video above illustrates, the diaphragm is a dome that wraps all the way around to the back. As a result, inhaling into your sides is built into your body.
  3. How about the movement in your back?  Take some time to assess movement alongside your spine.
  4. Lastly, place your hand on your breastbone. Can you feel the old-fashioned pump handle movement of the sternum as it rises with each breath? Just the placement of your hand and focused attention to that area will improve the movement of the ribs and you will notice yourself able to take a larger breath

old fashioned pump better breathing.

Breathing Exercise: Pump Handle Sternal Movement

Here is an easy way to encourage sternal breathing.

  1. Assume a standing or sitting posture.
  2. Lift your shoulders up towards your ears as you inhale.
  3. Roll your shoulders back and down as you exhale.
  4. Keep your shoulder blades in this new position (down and back) and take another deep breath. You should feel your sternum (breastbone) rise and fall with greater excursion.

Yamuna Body Rolling

Yamuna Body Rolling uses a simple tool, a specialized Yamuna ball, to give sensory input to your ribcage. This technique empowers you to create structural changes in your ribcage to improve breathing. It encourages movement in the rigid parts of the ribcage. As a result, it creates 3-dimensional breathing and a fuller, deeper breath.

This is accomplished by

  • using your body weight over the Yamuna ball,
  • focused breathing,
  • performing specialized routines on the ribcage
  • and a little time and effort.

Breathing Exercise: Bucket Handle Ribcage Movement

Watch this short video to view how Yamuna Body Rolling promotes movement in the sides of the ribcage.


Other Ways to Promote Better Breathing

Changing your brain: Get outside in nature.

Take a Walk

Taking a walk or exercising will naturally increase your breathing capacity. Your body requires more oxygen for the activity, so you naturally breathe deeper to meet the demand.

Yoga

Yoga, with attention on breath with each pose, is one example. A good instructor will prompt you with instruction on when to inhale and exhale with specific movements.

Bowenwork

Many of the basic relaxation moves are performed on the spine. These influence the spinal nerves that affect the autonomic nervous system. Moves around the shoulder blade help to release tension.

The gentle Bowenwork moves help the body achieve

  • a deep relaxation response,
  • a noticeable improvement in breathing
  • and relaxation of the muscles of the shoulder girdle, neck and diaphragm.

Build Breathing into your Life

Integrating conscious breathing into everyday activities is key to long lasting results. Be present. Take time to notice your breathing.

Are you holding your breath when exerting yourself. For example, do you hold your breath when ascending stairs or going from sit to stand?

When you are driving your car or standing in the grocery line, tune in to your breath.  Focus on taking a few deep breaths in that moment.

What about when you are stressed. Deep breathing is a proven solution to bring calm back to the body during stressful times.

In conclusion, take time for conscious breathing, posture checks, and proper movement patterns throughout the day. Consequently, this will make a big difference with pain control, healing response, relaxation, energy level and vibrancy. Life can be a lot easier as we learn better breathing habits.


“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. “ Psalm 150:6

Categories: Breathing Exercise

Post by Mary Falk PT on June 27, 2013

Restorative Categories

 
Share with your friends

The capacity for better breathing is built into the design of the ribcage.

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.