Updated: Oct 7, 2021
I get this question so often. The simple answer is if you’re alive, well done you are breathing! However, optimising breathing for your individual health picture can look super different for each person and change depending on your life stage too.
For instance, all the pregnant ladies out there have surely noticed the more pregnant you get, the more out of breath you seem… But, did you know that just three days post conception your whole baseline breathing pattern and biochemistry changes to optimise oxygen to the foetus? Pretty cool, huh? Good news is there are certain things we can do to reduce your breathlessness during pregnancy, not to mention reduce the snoring often accompanying pregnancy-related shortness of breath! Less snoring means better oxygenation to your baby yay!
Another example is in the case of a neurological injury such as a spinal cord injury, stroke or degenerative neuromuscular disorder. Post injury people can have problems with innervation of the diaphragm or abdominal muscles which drastically affect efficiency of breathing. Some people are even on a ventilator to assist with breathing long term. Particularly for these people, optimising use of the respiratory muscles they do have is instrumental in keeping healthy for as long as you can. Without effective breathing we are at risk of chest infections. Believe it or not it is the regular airflow in and out of the lungs that shifts and removes mucous preventing it from staying in the lung and getting infected.
This brings me to chest breathers. Chest breathing is so incredibly common! Have you had childhood asthma? Do you suffer with anxiety? Have a look in the mirror and see if when you take a breath your shoulders rise and fall. Then have a look on the side and see if you get more movement up around your breastbone and/or collar bones? If this is you, you may well be a chest breather. Whilst you may not have a neurological injury, you are still breathing inefficiently and worst still you may be at risk of chest infections due to lack of airflow into the bases of the lungs to clear out any nasties. Perhaps you yawn frequently? This may be your bodies way of clearing the bases of the lungs of infected mucous because airflow doesn’t routinely get down there with your baseline pattern! Isn’t the body cool?
Ok so hopefully, by now you can see that whilst breathing might be natural there are several factors that can change our baseline breathing. Whilst the body is a master at adaptation and can handle any ‘less than positive’ breathing habits we’ve adopted, we can just as easily train better breathing. I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard about this little virus that’s going around at the moment so if ever there was a time to breathe better I guess now would be it? If you’re interested in my 3 month Breathing Basics online program or want to explore some one-on-one sessions please reach out and send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.