Does your back hurt? Shoulders? Neck? Hips? Knees? Literally any joint. Have you tried everything & found no relief? There is a high chance that your breathing mechanics are not optimal, & this is what is causing your pain. If I had to guess, I’d say 3 out of 10 American adults breathe properly. That may be too generous.
Diaphragmatic breathing is the term most physical therapists or yogis will use to describe proper breathing. Most of us do not fully utilize our diaphragm to breathe; meaning when you breathe in you do not feel your belly expand. Take a look at an infant or young child & notice their protruding, relaxed bellies (not fat). Infants & young children still retain their natural breathing mechanics because life has not yet stiffened them up. Through years of sitting in chairs, ingraining poor motor patterns (or not moving enough), eating the standard American diet, & enduring stressful events, tension accumulates in the body; particularly the belly. Not to mention the aesthetic appeal of a flat belly; many people contract their bellies to appear slimmer. This tensing up of your belly will restrict your ability to breathe deeply & fully.
Try right now. Place your pointer fingers on each side of your belly at belly-button level. Then slowly breathe into your fingers; as you breathe in, your stomach should expand against your fingers. This may feel unnatural or even impossible.
The restriction of your natural breathing mechanics will cause joint pain. When your diaphragm is not functioning optimally, your body structure & posture are at risk. Respiratory muscles involved in a natural, deep breath run all the way down to your pelvic floor. If these muscles are not loose & functioning optimally, there will be a lack of intra-abdominal pressure. Intra-abdominal pressure is the foundation for an aligned spine & pelvis. So, if your breathing mechanics are off, this can cause your pelvis to sit at an obscure angle (AKA pelvic tilt). A pelvic tilt will lead to severe muscular imbalances which can tweak your spine. That tweak is your lower back pain, mid back/shoulder pain & even neck pain. The human body is a kinetic chain, & when something begins to go wrong, it’s only a matter of time until it begins to travel up or down the chain. These imbalances, if not corrected, will alter your skeletal structure; especially if they were present during growth & development.
So, you go to your chiropractor with back pain, he takes an x-ray & tells you that you have scoliosis. He then tells you to come back twice a week for the next 3 months. That won’t fix the underlying problem. Yes, you may find temporary relief, but since you have not addressed that which is the underlying problem, your body will find its way back in the same position.
What do you do? There are three steps to correcting your breathing mechanics & correcting muscular imbalances.
- Practice diaphragmatic breathing & cease intense workouts
- Stretch & strengthen
- Slow workouts & deep breathing
1. I’ll be releasing a video demonstrating some breathing exercises soon. Stop working out intensely because when you are fatigued, you’re less likely to perform movements with optimal form; thus further ingraining poor motor patterns & imbalances.
2. Once you feel comfortable breathing into your belly, it’s time to stretch what’s tight & strengthen what’s weak. Now that you’re beginning to breathe evenly & deeply, you have the foundation to realign your body. This is a great time to visit a chiropractor to have them adjust you. Once adjusted, you can begin a cautious stretching routine in conjunction with a low impact strength routine.
3. Now that your breathing mechanics have fully been restored along with the alignment of your body, you can begin to workout. Your workouts can be intense, but take it slow to begin with. Breathe deeply & steadily as you perform your workout. Never take your attention off your breath. It’s important to coordinate your movements with your breathing in order to instill proper motor patterns in your nervous system. Maintain proper form, move slowly & mindfully, & breathe.
I hope this helps! If you want a more detailed plan, you can contact me. This is just a general schematic. I promise, once you address your breathing mechanics, you will begin to alleviate MANY problems you may have regarding your health & well-being.