Preventative Medicine... Diaphragmatic Breathing
If you are like most people you probably haven’t given much thought to the way you breathe until now.
However, factors such as stress, slumping in the chair, abdominal surgery, or even always keeping the stomach tensed and hence fashionably flat, mean we tend to adopt incorrect breathing patterns without realising it. Perhaps it may come as a relief to know those much sought after “washboard abs” are not so healthy after all.
Common examples of incorrect breathing include:
● Chest breathing (breathing high into your chest)
● Shallow breathing
● Irregular breathing
● Failing to breathe out fully
● Forgetting to breathe out at all for a while and holding your breath
● Breathing too rapidly or too deeply (hyperventilation)
● Breathing through your mouth rather than your nose
Some people who breathe incorrectly complain they tend to run out of breath while talking, others may notice feeling anxious, but many may not be aware of any effects at all.
"We often worry about what to eat and what not to eat but we can last months without food, but only days without water and only minutes without oxygen"
However correct breathing is essential for optimal physical and emotional well-being. Consider that we often worry about what to eat and what not to eat but we can last months without food, but only days without water and only minutes without oxygen.
Incorrect breathing patterns can have some surprising effects.
In Chapter 7 we mentioned that habitual chest breathing could cause trigger points to develop in the neck and shoulder muscles, and that replacing chest breathing by diaphragmatic breathing plays an important part in preventing these trigger points from recurring in the future.
But what is diaphragmatic breathing?
Diaphragmatic breathing, which is also called abdominal or belly breathing, is considered to be the normal healthy way to breathe. It means drawing air deeply into the lungs while keeping the belly relaxed and using the diaphragm to do most of the work. This causes the abdomen to expand rather than the chest.
Slow diaphragmatic breathing is how a sleeping baby breathes, its abdomen rising and falling with each breath.
It is the most efficient way to breathe, requiring the least physical effort and almost completely filling the lungs with air.
"It also has a calming effect, helping reduce emotional stress and excess muscle tension"
It also has a calming effect, helping reduce emotional stress and excess muscle tension and so is normally used as a prelude to relaxation exercises.
Slow diaphragmatic breathing can make a significant contribution to reducing the frequency and severity of your headache attacks.
It does this by:
● Removing one cause of trigger points in the muscles of the neck and shoulder muscles which are a direct source of headache pain.
● Increasing oxygen supply to the brain.
● Reducing emotional stress and excess muscle tension.
* This is an excerpt from the book Stop Headaches Naturally (Chapter 8, Correct Breathing - Diaphragmatic Breathing & Headache Prevention)