Have you ever suffered from a headaches or pain in your neck and upper back after a stressful day at work?
Did you know that your headaches and muscle pain could be a result of dysfunctional breathing from stress? When we are stress, we tend to hold our breathe, but our body still requires oxygen and so smaller, accessory muscles, such as our scalenes, sternocleidomastoid (SCM), and upper trapezius takes over. however, our main muscles for optimal breathing is our diaphragm!
If you’ve ever heard the term, diaphragmatic breathing or belly breathing, this is it; in optimal respiration, you should see your belly move outward with each inhalation.
We said that stress could be one of the main reason we don’t use our diaphragm to breath, other reason could be from diaphragm weakness; the diaphragm is a huge muscle and if we don’t use it, it becomes weak over time. Lastly, another possible reason is that if you tend to sit in a chair for most of your work days, diaphragmatic breathing may be difficult. This is because, when you sit and your hips are at 90 degrees, the belly is compressed from bottom, limiting the space for the diaphragm to mechanically work.
How do you know if you are lacking optimal respiration?
Try this out: Place one hand over your upper chest and one hand on top of your navel, now inhale and exhale several times. Does your bottom hand move less than the top hand? Does sticking out the belly feel awkward or unnatural? If you answered yes to either questions, then you may be experiencing a dysfunction in your breathing. Speak with your Chiropractor for more information about apical breathing and how it relates to headaches and neck pain. Also, see our next pose for tips on how to improve your diaphragmatic breathing at home!