Breathe In & Relax

Are you breathing correctly?

Breathing correctly should be a given but with everyday stresses and respiratory conditions this isn’t always the case.

The vast majority of people are doing short shallow breaths using their upper ribs and the surrounding muscles that attach on to the neck. As the breath isn’t being pulled right down into the belly less oxygen is being absorbed into the lungs making it less efficient. When you need more oxygen; when your exercising or stressed, the body reacts by doing faster, shorter breaths.

Relying too much on the use of these upper respiratory muscles increases the tension around your upper back and neck. In time, that can present as a cervicogenic headache, tightness in your chest or general shoulder and upper back pain.

How should you breathe?

Through your nose, all the time.

How do you know what you’re doing?

Do you wake up with a dry mouth?

Do you randomly gasp for breath?

Do you find you sometimes stop breathing for a few moments?

Do you suffer from frequent throat infections?

The chances are you breathe through your mouth for a time throughout the day and night.

What are the benefits of nose breathing?

Increases oxygen uptake into your blood, which will be a massive benefit especially when exercising.

· Increases first line of defense for infection. Compared to the mouth the nose has many ways to prevent bacteria and viruses entering the body.

· Lowers the anxiety response. Breathing through your nose will naturally slow your breath, a longer exhalation will activate the para sympathetic

system and lower your cortisol levels.

· Decreases the use of upper ribs and muscles around the neck by activating the diaphragm.

What can you do?

What can you do?

· Slow down when you’re exercising. This is a frustrating one as it takes time to build up to what you would normally do. If you feel like you need to breathe through your mouth slow down, your body will adapt.

· Use a breathing app to practice breathing out for longer and calming the sympathetic nervous system. “The breathing app” is a good free app to use.

· Tape your mouth when sleeping. This may feel quite restrictive but it will get easier.

If you already suffer from upper back and neck stiffness or pain, seeing an Osteopath will help facilitate this change. An Osteopath will help relax muscles that have been working too hard, increase the range of movement of the ribs allowing for greater intakes of breath and give specific stretches or exercises that suit you individually.

Keep at it! It’s not going to come naturally straight away, be patient.

Blog written by Clemency Tilley from ‘Dundrum Osteopathy’ located in Dublin 16.


contact us today

Positive Balance Osteopathy
55 Main Street
Co. Wicklow

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Tues:  9 – 7pm
Wed:  9 – 7pm
Thurs:  9 - 6pm
Fri:  9 - 5pm
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