Breathing for better health and function

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Breathing is the single most important thing we do – without it we would not provide the minimum requirements our bodies need to survive. Unfortunately how we breathe is rarely looked at and is frequently found to be poor. Breathing has been shown to become dysfunctional in those that are unwell and can create feelings of being unwell when breathing poorly! Some research has shown the much of the normal population do not breathe correctly!

I use corrective breathing techniques with my patients and during stretching classes to improve quality of movements and the results from exercise. The response has been excellent and so I thought I would provide a little information what poor breathing can do and how easy it is to correct it.

Poor Breathing can cause the following symptoms:

  1. Shortness of breath when not doing any activity, and for no apparent reason
  2. Frequent sighing and/or yawning
  3. Light-headedness, dizzy and/or feeling “spaced out”
  4. Chest tightness
  5. Irritable coughing
  6. Chest pain
  7. Erratic heart beats
  8. Gut upsets, oesophageal reflux and/or nausea
  9. Tiredness, weakness, broken sleep and nightmares
  10. Feelings of high anxiety and panic
  11. Achy muscles and joints, or tremors
  12. Sweating
  13. Sexual problems

Hyperventilation Syndrome (HVS) is an example of poor breathing and is when a person breathes too much air. The average person should breathe in 6-7 litres of air per minute. The follow illnesses have been found to breathe in more than twice (up to 16 l/minute) as much therefore making it more difficult to manage their symptoms:

  • Heart Disease
  • Asthma
  • Diabetes
  • Pulmonary Hypertension
  • COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease – inability to get air out of lungs)
  • Cancer
  • Sleep Apnoea
  • Epilepsy
  • Panic Disorder
  • And many more

Benefits of breathing correctly are:

  1. Improve oxygen into your body therefore improving organ and brain function
  2. Improving Management of Stress
  3. May help resolve any of the symptoms listed above that are caused by poor breathing.
  4. May improve athletic or sports performance

Please note that many of the above symptoms can also be signs of a significant health issue therefore seeing your Doctor first is recommended. If you have been cleared of any major health issues and your symptoms persist the following technique may be useful.

  1. Lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Place one hand on your tummy just below your ribs
  3. Relax and then breathe in slowly through your nose letting your tummy rise but avoiding expanding your upper chest.
  4. Relax again and pause for 2-3 seconds before starting the cycle over again.
  5. Your Breathing rate should be between 5-8 breaths per minutes.

I would recommend using the smart phone app My Calm Beat (to keep your rhythm). The more you do it the better the results. If you are having trouble correcting your own technique or your symptoms are severe make an appointment at our clinic and we can help you to Breathe Right!

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