Every day our lungs automatically expand and contract up to 20,000 times, allowing us to breathe and oxygenate our body. Our breaths can be short or long, and can be affected by respiratory disease, momentary distress or simply breathing in an incorrect manner. All those breathing variables affect our body, from the immune system to our posture and spinal alignment.
Chiropractic care is a proven and natural way of helping to reduce and relieve the symptoms and side effects of specific breathing problems. Chiropractic adjustments help with improving movement in the ribs and restoring strength to the intercostal muscles.
Contributing factors to breathing issues are problems with the spine and the thoracic nerves. Thoracic nerves are found in the chest as an extension of the spinal nerves branching from the vertebrae carrying vital signals between the spinal cord, the body and lungs. Misalignment of a vertebra or the spine can result in pain and reduce range of motion, and can ultimately cause breathing issues.
Are you breathing correctly? One way to assess your breathing pattern is to take a deep breath. Is your stomach going in or out? If your stomach went out, you are most likely breathing correctly. If your stomach caved inwards, you are probably breathing incorrectly and not taking full advantage of your lung capacity.
The movement of your stomach is reflecting the way your diaphragm is working. The diaphragm is a large sheet of muscle that separates the lungs and abdomen, which plays an integral part in the ability of the lungs to function. When the thoracic nerves and surrounding muscles are in distress, the diaphragm will not function properly, limiting oxygen intake and reducing lung capacity.
Ultimately, breathing incorrectly or fatigued breathing drives overworks neck and shoulder muscle, which try to compensate and become stiff and sore. The higher the level of back and neck pain, the more the body is prone to adjust its posture to an incorrect hunching position, which can lead to further breathing problems. Similarly, breathing problems can affect the posture by bringing the pelvis, the abdomen and diaphragm out of balance.
Here are some tips to improve breathing:
- Avoid sitting for an extended period of time
- Control the upper back posture
- Practice deep breathing techniques focusing on abdominal and diaphragm movements
- Take 5-10 minutes of the day to focus on your breathing, and assess it
Chiropractic treatment can help with neck pain and back pain, which can improve your overall spinal health and your breathing.