Breathe a sigh of relief with better posture

“Breathing is the first act of life and our last, our very life depends on it” – Joseph Pilates, Return to life through Controlology*. There are multiple ways you can interpret this from it being the most vital aspect of our existence to the fact if we were to breathe properly it would benefit the body and its function. So let’s have a quick look and chat about the latter and it’s relationship with posture.

Our posture affects many things in life from our mood and emotions, which affects our health, which changes our breathing pattern, which changes our posture again. And so the cycle continues…. similar to watching countless episodes of the Bold and the Beautiful.

Poor alignment in that slumped position means your diaphragm (your primary breathing muscle) can’t descend easily making it hard to activate the posterior/ rear half of your diaphragm that attaches to your lower ribs and spine. Your body will want to get air in still so it can replenish its oxygen stores. To do that it has to recruit its back up breathing muscles around its neck and chest to help inhale, expanding the rib cage to get air travelling down into the lungs. Just briefly try it on yourself now by slumping over and then try to take a few breaths.

These neck muscles are not very efficient and have to work quite hard, as they are not designed to be used for the 17,000 or so breaths that we take each and every day. They get tired, fatigued and we create muscular tightness that can generate headaches, jaw and neck pain.

So once again posture reigns supreme. Now I can hear you saying man this all seems like a lot of work. And there is no denying that this takes effort to activate your postural muscles, but the rewards of proper postural muscle control are considerably worth while, from better breathing which helps with the bodies recovery as well as mood benefits, to helping with self confidence, to improving your image as a better candidate subconsciously to others in interviews, business and even dating (that was most likely my first and last dating tip)

A study by E.Szczygieł in 2018 found that exercising and activating the deep muscles of the body significantly improved the body’s alignment but also increased breathing capacity. So if you sit at a desk or use a phone for long periods take note.

When activating our core muscles the first step we need to be do is learn to breathe. Then our core which can seem as a cylinder of muscles, which includes transversus abdominis, multifidus, pelvic floor muscles and diaphragm, can activate to provide core postural alignment and support. Although breathing is usually underestimated when it comes to obtaining optimal posture but key in laying the groundwork for good posture. Which leads to this month’s video with a very special guest.

Facts

When you adopt a slumped posture/breathing pattern you experience sadness.

-Respiratory feedback in the generation of emotion – Research Gate

The diaphragm accounts for approximately 75% of our breathing effort.

By practicing your breathing it is estimated that you can increase your lung capacity by 20 – 30%

⁃ Unite Health

Tips

Breathe and just let it happen

Don’t force you breath start with a comfortable effort and gradually increase the volume over time to help avoiding over recruitment in the wrong muscles.

Chill out and breathe man

Hot humid air can cause some inflammation in the airways, making it harder to breathe and exacerbate respiratory conditions. When practicing your breathing, find a a cool but not too dry a place and drink plenty of water. So a great place is usually your desk…. where we want to do it anyway. 😉

Aaannnddd stretch

Stretching out the truck will help with being able to fully and evenly expand and your rib cage and therefore increasing your breathing efficiency.

*Controlology was the original name for what is now called the Pilates method


*Please note these exercises and tips are general in nature if you are experiencing pain or any adverse symptoms please consult a medical or allied health professional.