Deep breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, WILL be beneficial to you (and anyone else, for that matter). With so many working from home in poor posture, we often feel tension and discomfort in the neck. There are many factors which can affect your breathing pattern including shortened neck muscles, tightness in the front of the chest, weakness between the shoulder blades, and slouched posture. But how? Poor posture makes it difficult for air to reach the mid and lower portions of the lungs, making breathing less efficient and making us more susceptible to illness.
However, there are other important positive effects you may find with deep breathing. Among its benefits, it can:
Lower blood pressure
Improve core stability (more on this when we talk about core exercise!)
Improve exercise tolerance
Decrease respiratory rate
Decrease sensitivity of the nervous system
Now, that last one is really important! When we are experiencing pain, especially over a prolonged period of time (i.e. chronic pain), the sympathetic part of our autonomic nervous system remains in a heightened state. Deep breathing helps to activate our parasympathetic nervous system -- this helps us to rest, digest, lower our heart rate, and lower our pain. Pretty cool, huh?
So, how DO we perform deep breathing?
Lie down and get comfy! Place a pillow under your head and knees, or just keep your knees bent if you prefer.
Rest one hand on your chest, the other on your belly just below your rib cage
Breathe in slowly through your nose and feel your lower hand begin to slowly rise. The hand on your chest should remain somewhat still.
Breathe out through pursed lips slowly (like you’re about to drink through a straw).
Repeat for 5 - 10 min. If you’re busy at work and only have a couple of minutes to spare, practice deep breathing at your desk while sitting comfortably with your eyes closed.
It may seem silly at first, but the benefits are tried and true. Give it a go! Stay well, don’t forget to stretch, and make time for yourself to be active. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at BHPT. We’re here for you.