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Dysfunctional Breathing Patterns

“Just Breathe” is a common saying, implying its an easy thing to do.

But sometimes “just breathing “ is not always that.

It can be fast, it can be hard work, it can stop you from doing what you want to do. It can stop you from starting what you want to do. You may get concerned and anxious about how you are going to manage. Your breathing does not always follow what you brain is telling it to do.

Your breathing is the foundation of all that you do. Your life, your function, your exercise, your enjoyment. To breathe well is to live well. But often, we do not breathe in a way that is best or most optimal for us. Over-breathing can lead to symptoms of dizziness, anxiety and shortness of breath.

But how can you retrain your breathing, when it is your anatomy, physiology and medical history that is controlling it?

Well, all of that is true but you may adopt habits and patterns that can lead to your breathing becoming less efficient and less than optimal for functioning at your best.  You may find yourself in a cycle where your abnormal breathing pattern causes stress and worry, which in turn, causes an abnormal way of breathing, causing more stress and worry and so on. Breathing is certainly influenced by the way you think.

At Just Breathe Physiotherapy we will take you back to basics and assess your breathing pattern at rest then show you how to take this improved pattern into your everyday life with simple manageable exercises and strategies.

An awareness about how you breathe is a good place to start. Have a look in a mirror and notice how much movement is happening at your shoulders and chest. Are your shoulders rising with each breath? Is your chest coming out with each breath?

Did you know that the diaphragm is our major muscle of respiration and at rest (ie standing in front of a mirror) you don’t need the other muscles to be working much. You don’t need your shoulders to lift much or at all or your chest to puff out. Let the diaphragm do the work it is intended to do. Bring your breathing back to your belly.  A hand on your belly may help guide this.

Lying down with your hand on your belly, being aware of the small movements will help guide you.

Breathe in, hand rises……then let your Breathe go, hand naturally falls. Start simple. Breathe through your nose if you can.  Enjoy the rhythm of your breath and allow it to flow, however that feels for you. Everyone is different and sometimes it may feel effortless, sometimes it is harder, and you feel like you are working.

If lying down is not a position you or your body likes, then try sitting up relaxed or sitting forward. The idea is to find a position that requires the least amount of effort from you to breathe. It doesn’t have to be perfect. But with some practice, it will improve.

And you do have to practice. It is a skill worth practicing though as the benefits of being able to control how you breath at rest, even for a very short time, will translate into better breathing at other times, ie with stress, with exercise, with normal function.

Have a go and “Just Breathe”.