Breathing is integral to many aspects of your health and wellbeing including detoxification (70% of the body’s toxins are released through breathing), relaxation, assisting digestive processes, oxygenation of the blood to clarify the mind and nourish the tissues of the body, boosting energy levels and your mood.
Have you ever taken a moment during your day to notice what your breath is doing? Are you holding it in or out when feeling stressed? Yawning or sighing a lot? Not breathing deeply?
Remember your body is much more than a bag of skin, bones and muscles and it is important to think about how your breath affects the pH of your blood, your digestive processes an mental state. If you are a shallow breather you may experience some or all of the following:
- Reduced pain thresholds
- A tendency towards becoming easily fatigued
- General sense of apprehension and tendency to anxiety
- Increased tension in accessory breathing muscles, leading to chest, neck and shoulder and/or stiffness
- A tendency to headaches
- Cramps and spasms
- Cold extremities
- IBS and bladder dysfunction
(Ford et al 1995)
Osteopathy can help improve your breathing by removing restrictions from the rib articulations in the spine, stretching your diaphragm, lengthening the muscles you use for respiration and reducing sympathetic tone (the effects of flight or fight response). An Osteopath may give you breathing exercises to work on at home and encourage you to exercise. Your body is amazing at healing itself and by making sure your breathing mechanics are effective – your body will be better equipped to heal and restore itself.
By Mel Jhey
Osteopath and Yoga Teacher