Why your breathing sucks!
Breathing should be one of the most simple and mindless things that we do every day yet most of us SUCK at breathing! But why? There are several factors to take into account why you’re not breathing right. Ask yourself this, do you find it hard to take a deep breath normally? Do your shoulders hurt? Does your low back hurt? Does your neck hurt? Do you have weak core? Do you have bladder control issues? If you answered yes to ANY of these questions you probably have a breathing dysfunction. It might sound odd that you have a breathing dysfunction if you have bladder control issues or your shoulders hurt but let me explain why.
Majority of us breathe solely with our chest, yes that’s part of breathing, but we don’t’/can’t breathe with our belly’s or diaphragm to be exact. By solely breathing with our chest it causes us to develop over use of our neck muscles to lift our chest and tightness in our shoulders because our chest gets pulled to tight from not getting to relax during normal breathing. This repetitive motion of breathing with our chest causes our diaphragm to because weak and stiff therefor forcing us to even further breathe solely through the chest. This will lead to bladder control issues because of a weak pelvic floor, low back pain, weak core, tight hip flexors, tight and weak hamstrings along with a list of other potential aches and pains.
One of the main reasons we get caught up solely using the chest to breathe as appose to our belly’s and chest, like we did as kids, is STRESS! As adults we tend to have more stress in our lives which leads to higher levels of adrenaline causing us to go into “flight or fight” mode which increases our heart rates, increase respiratory rate and increase blood pressure to be ready to RUN from danger (stress) or STAY and face it (stress).
How do you fix it? DESTRESS, that is the first step! Letting go of the things you can’t control and controlling the things you can will help you feel relief from the overwhelming day to day stresses. Be CONSCIOUS of how your breathing in stressful situation (work, working out, driving in rush hour traffic, etc.). Being aware if your using your belly or chest will help you to know when to take a second and refocus your breathing pattern.
Crocodile breathing! This is and exercise that will help you connect your diaphragm with your breathing and help you destress!
- Begin by laying on your belly with your hands under your forehead and your feet relaxed rolling outwards so your toes are pointed towards each other.
- Taking in a deep breath through your nose and try pressing your belly button into the ground at the same time.
- Then fully exhale slowly out through your mouth until your abdominals fully contract on their own, not forcing contraction.
This might not be easy at first and it may even be uncomfortable. Don’t rush it, keep trying and stay relaxed. Once you feel like you are pressing your belly button into the ground and feeling your sides and back expand then you are breathing correctly through you diaphragm!! If you want to challenge yourself to strength your diaphragm, core and pelvic floor, take a deep breathe in for 5 seconds and then exhale out for 10, as you exhale try contracting your pelvic floor like your trying to stop yourself from going to the bathroom (#1 and #2). Then fully relax the pelvic floor as your take a breath in. Repeat for 5 minutes daily!
If you’re having trouble pushing your belly button into the ground flip over onto your back, bend your knees, feet flat on the ground. Place one hand on your belly, one on your chest, trying to not let the chest rise as you take in a deep breathe.
Taking 5 minutes a day to focus JUST on your breathing will help slow down your heart rate which will help decrease your respiratory rate, decrease cortisol, adrenaline, low back pain, shoulder pain and neck pain and improve core strength, diaphragm strength, and pelvic floor strength.