The Power of Breathing Well!
– Marelize Maritz
Did you notice the last breath you just took?
How amazing is your body? To perform such a vital function such as breathing, without you even having to think about it? Correct breathing is the key to solve many problems.
Now that we have made you aware of this beautiful in and outflow of air, take note of how it feels, what is happening?
- Do you ever think about how you are breathing?
- Do you ever feel the wave-like motion that occurs in your body as you breathe?
- Have you ever noticed a change in your breathing, perhaps when you were faced with an unexpected challenge, a fearful situation, or a deadline?
Breathing may seem imperceptible. However, breathing has a major effect on how your body functions on the inside, and even on how you feel and think. In our modern world, we have become rather disconnected with our bodies. The beauty, however, is that your body, your physical vessel that carries you through everyday life, is remarkably adaptable. Reconnecting with your body can open up a world of health, wellness, joy and freedom.
Breathing problems are more common than we realise, and most of us have experienced some sort of breathing problem, be it coughing, a blocked nose or post-nasal drip. Other common breathing problems include breathlessness, especially on exertion such as exercise, frequent sighing or yawning, dizziness and snoring.
Breath is life.
Breathing is a basic bodily function, and is responsible for much more than simply bringing oxygen (O2) into your body and getting rid of carbon dioxide (CO2). Breathing has 3 very important functions:
- Biomechanical – breathing plays a vital role in the way you move, your posture, your core, your digestive health, your nervous system function, lymphatic flow, and your voice and speech
- Biochemical – breathing brings fresh O2 in and gets rid of CO2, and carefully regulates your body’s pH to maintain a healthy, balanced internal environment
- Psychological – your feelings, emotions, thoughts
Your breathing is thus subject to major disruption from many things. Faulty breathing patterns have many possible causes, from emotional stress to the type of clothing you wear, from gut problems to chronic sinus issues. Faulty breathing can also be a response to an already existing problem, such as anxiety or depressive disorders, or underlying heart problems.
Whatever the cause, whatever the problem, we can help you to identify and manage it. And it starts with restoring optimal breathing function.
The current global Covid-19 pandemic has, to some extent, enabled us to recognise the importance of breathing. Many of us have seen, and possibly experienced, the distress that is caused by breathing difficulties.
How can you Breathe Well?
No, not by taking frequent, big breaths…
It starts with your nose. Your nose is the entry way for air into your body, it is the first step to taking a breath. You cannot breathe well if you cannot breathe through our nose. Your nose is so perfectly designed. Upon entry, your nose filters, warms, and humidifies the air before it enters the deeper, more vulnerable lung tissues. Therefore, good nasal hygiene is vital.
That established, we can now move lower down to your breathing pattern and your diaphragm. This dome-shaped breathing muscle is the most vital muscle in your body. As with any muscle, it can become weak, deconditioned and thin if it is not used. Use it correctly, and this muscle can provide beautiful overall health.
Not suffering any of the obvious breathing problems?
Hang in there, because if you experience any of the following, you may still need to have a look at your breathing:
- Back or neck pain
- Headaches or migraines
- Recurrent injuries in your hips, shoulders, knees or ankles
- Anxiety or restlessness
- Insomnia or other sleeping disturbances
- Fatigue, brain fog or difficulty concentrating
- Cold or clammy hands and feet, or the sensation of pins and needles
- Heart problems or chest pain
- Gut problems
These symptoms tell you that your body is not in a homeostatic state, meaning there is an imbalance somewhere. Essentially, the amount of CO2 in your body is a major determinant of homeostasis. When we over-breathe, or hyperventilate, we blow off more CO2 than normal. Similarly, when our breathing is suppressed or inefficient, we retain CO2. In both situations, the CO2 balance is disrupted.
CO2 control 4 areas in your body:
- The blood flow to your brain – this can lead to “brain fog”, lack of clarity of thought, reduced ability to concentrate.
- The smooth muscle constriction and that regulates blood flow to areas such as your heart – which may cause vascular spasms i.e. non-cardiac related chest pain and changes in blood pressure.
- It affects the excitability of your nerve ends – which may manifest as muscle tension and fatigue, or feelings of anxiety because of the overstimulation of your fight-or-flight nervous system.
- It also affects contractility of connective tissue – causing further tension in muscles and surrounding tissues.
Your breathing is so powerful. Breathing well may be the key to resolving your symptoms.
We have great news! Just Physio can help!
If you would like to find out more, or want to experience the joy of breathing well, visit us at Just Physio for a thorough assessment and individualised treatment program. Our therapists are trained in the latest techniques like the Bradcliff Method to get your breathing on the right tract.
Why don’t you book a 10 minute No-Obligation Telephone consultation with us to find out more!
See you soon!