Breathing – Something We All Do, But Often Don’t Think About

Breathing is something that I am very interested in with my clients because all too often I see clients present to my practice in either a painful or stressed state.  Little do they know that they may well be infact holding their breathing or trying to reset their breathing subconsciously through sighing, yawning or making other strange noises.  Many clients often find themselves holding tension in their body when in pain or stressed and have adopted altered breathing patterns i.e. upper rib breathing patterns.   Many people also find themselves consciously holding their belly in (rather than letting it move in and out) to avoid looking bloated and to appear like they have a flat stomach.

Diaphragmatic breathing (as one breathes in their belly moves/pushes out, lower ribs move out laterally) is something that many clients are unaware of.  Instead they are living in a state where these areas are held tight and tense and they all too often breathe too much through their upper ribs and develop tension through their accessory breathing muscles.  Having clients focus on their breathing for short periods of time (being mindful of not taking large gasps in and out so to hyperventilate) in a quiet place can be very calming on oneself. In the images below you will see various postures demonstrated that are often used to help encourage diaphragmatic breathing.

Top Left – Crocodile Breathing – Lying prone, the individual can focus on their breathe and pushing their belly into the ground.

Top Middle  Supine Knees Up – The individual can lie in a position with reduced tension through their neck and shoulders and focus on letting the belly move with breathing.

Top Right – 4 point kneeling – This position helps encourage the person to relax their abdomen and uses gravity to assist.

Middle Left and Middle –  Seated Positions – This is a transitional phase from the ground to standing and allows the individual to focus on belly movement and lateral rib expansion.

Middle Right  Standing – Another position where many of us spend a lot of time.  This allows them to focus on belly and lateral rib movement in an upright posture.

This blog post was written by osteopath Heath Williams of Principle Four Osteopathy.  Heath has a particular interest in exercise rehabilitation and strength and conditioning.  He has completed ASCA Level 2 Strength and Conditioning Course, Powerlifting Association Level 1 Coaching Course, FMS and many more.  For all of your injury treatment and management needs, touch base with us at  Principle Four Osteopathy are one of Melbourne City CBD and Docklands leading osteopathy clinics.