Breathing exercises for chiropractic patients


What are breathing exercises and why are they helpful for chiropractic patients, or anyone who wants to experience better health?

It might sound a little silly to suggest that you could be breathing a little bit better than you are. After all, without breath comes death–so you’d think if you were breathing improperly, you’d be in the hospital on life support, not reading this article now.

But, like all things automatic that involve a lot of muscle contractions, from walking, to running, to hand-writing, there are small ways that we can modify the usual way we do things, including breathing, and experience dramatic changes.

So, in terms of breathing exercises, let’s talk about diaphragmatic breathing.

What is diaphragmatic breathing?

Diaphragmatic breathing, or belly breathing, is consciously drawing breath into your lungs by expanding your belly first. After the belly expands, then the chest is allowed to expand. On the breath out, the movement is reversed.

Belly breathing creates a pressure change that allows air to flow into the lungs by moving the diaphragm, a muscle that splits your upper body in half, and stretches across the abdomen, just below the lungs themselves.

It’s different from chest breathing, which allows air into the lungs by using the muscles of the chest wall.

Probably the best way to understand how this kind of breathing works, is to watch it done on video. One of the best videos I’ve found on YouTube is featured below. I suggest trying what the trainer in the video is doing so you can feel the difference between moving the belly first, versus moving the chest.


The benefits of belly breathing exercises for chiropractic patients

Chiropractic patients, especially upper cervical chiropractic patients, can expect to experience some positive changes by practicing belly breathing, even if just for a few minutes per day.

1. Belly breathing helps the muscles of the shoulders, the lower neck, and the upper chest relax.

We don’t realize it, but when we chest-breathe all day long, we breathe shallowly, often only barely moving the chest in order to draw air into the lungs. Over time the accessory breathing muscles, those muscles that everyone grabs around their lower neck and rubs when they’re stressed, tend to get active when we breath shallowly.

By belly breathing you’re going to cause your whole upper body, including your neck, to relax. This can be a great form of at-home care if you experience tension headaches, neck pain, or you’re interested in holding your upper cervical alignment more consistently.

2. Belly breathing forces you to think about your posture.

Because a lot of us sit most or are forced to stare at screens all day, our posture tends to be down and forward, rather than up and back. Or down and closed instead of up and open. By belly breathing a few minutes per day, or maybe just one minute per hour, you’re going to far more conscious of your posture. You’ll be forced to think about the position of your shoulders versus the position of your belly and pelvis. And to do belly breathing properly, you’ll need to open the chest, relax your upper back muscles, and take the forward tilt out of your pelvis.

Belly breathing can help you adopt, at least for a few minutes per day, a more healthy posture. And for many it will help their bodies feel more at ease.

3. Breathing from the diaphragm has health benefits.

Belly breathing for just a few minutes can actually cause real physiological changes in your body. You bring more oxygen into your lungs, which in turn, gets delivered to your cells. Your heart rate drops, and so does your blood pressure. Chronic pain levels may fall. Many people who practice belly breathing on a regular basis experience a feeling of peace and calm in their body, even if their thoughts are traveling at 90 miles per hour.

Intentional belly breathing can be a mini-vacation from the stresses of your day. And the more mini-vacations you have throughout the day, the better off you’ll probably be.

Take the belly breathing challenge…Of course, the only real way to discover if belly breathing can help you, is to simply try it. Set an alarm on your cell phone, and see if you can belly breathe for one minute every hour for a single afternoon–and see if you notice a difference in your energy levels.

Written by Dr. Ward

Father. Foodie. And dedicated upper cervical chiropractor. Find me practicing gentle upper cervical care in Oakland County, Michigan. Have a question or comment? I'm at your service. Reach me at my Auburn Hills chiropractic practice: (248) 598-4002. Or on Google +, Facebook, or Twitter.

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