Breathe. Stretch. Shake. Now, let it go. Breathe in. Breathe out. Simple, right? Well, not quite. In a society where we sit a lot, move very little, work a lot of hours, and are fairly stressed out, we need to think a little more about breathing than we currently do now. Something as simple as breathing is often neglected. Many of us don’t know how to properly fully inhale. Breathing properly can be the magic many of us are looking for to help facilitate better sleep, less stress, less pain, etc.
Now for the million-dollar question, “How do I breathe properly?” I do not want to get too sciencey on y’all, but basically, we have this thing called a diaphragm, which is supposed to be responsible for breathing. When the diaphragm is used properly, it pulls air down and in to our belly. We call this diaphragmatic breathing. It triggers a relax response, puts us into a better state of homeostasis, and recruits the proper muscles necessary for breathing. Most of us do not breathe this way.
On a daily basis, we find ourselves sitting at desks, looking at computers, and stressed out of our minds. All of these things pile on top of one another and lead us into a stressed state for the majority of our time. We are shrugging, with our shoulders up by our ears, without even knowing it. Our backs hurt. Our necks are tight. On top of all of that, we breathe in a way that makes all of this far worse. Most of us shoulder breathe. This is when you take a breath in and your shoulders rise up towards your ears. Shoulder breathing requires the use of a bunch of smaller muscles in your shoulders that typically should not be responsible for breathing. Over time, the muscles become overdeveloped and can lead to many neck, shoulder, and back issues.
Learning to take full breaths in to your belly can help completely relax you. Learning how to properly pull the air in through your nose, in to your belly, and in to your pelvic floor has many benefits, too. This can help take some of the tension out of your neck, shoulders, and lower back. If you are one of the many people with sleeping problems, this can just be a breathing issue. It could also mean you are a shoulder breather. Having a breathing issue is a stressful state. It triggers the body’s fight-or-flight response, which can leave us with an elevated heartrate, increased blood pressure, and make us take short, shallow breaths. All of these are poor qualities for getting valuable sleep.
Surprisingly, breathing is a powerful tool to help make us feel better and Stronger. I’ve mentioned neck and shoulder issues being cured by belly breathing. This is not a hoax. Allowing those tiny muscles in your neck and shoulders to relax can help you regain the mobility you thought was lost. It will feel like the weight of the world was lifted off of your shoulders. So, give it a try. Breathe in. Breathe out.