Breathing, Posture & Back Pain

If you are already one of our patients, you know that we emphasize early in care that proper breathing is vital to both the stabilization of your spine and management of chronic/recurrent back pain. Although this topic may be repetitious to some of you, it further explains the importance of this seemingly simple function. Hang in there with us!

On average, we breathe between 14,000 and 21,000 per day. (Surprising, huh?) The major muscle responsible for these actions, the diaphragm, is located from the middle to lower ribcage. Along with its front, side and back attachments, a common tendon is then fastened to the lower spine.

When functioning properly, our diaphragm serves dual roles: It acts as both the primary muscle for breathing (or “respiration”) and the major stabilizer for the spine, pelvis and shoulders. With correct breathing, the diaphragm contracts fully and pushes down on the abdominal contents. Give it a try. As you feel this abdominal contraction, you are engaging the deep pelvic floor and stabilizing muscles of the spine. This creates a “canister” effect which supports your spine … and leads to healthy posture!

We regularly see patients with an increased forward-head posture, a rounded or slumped middle back, an elevated ribcage and a tilted or tipped pelvis. These prevent our diaphragmatic muscles from activating as designed. After all, we are striving to attain a significant – spinal stabilization.

Here are few frequent complaints heard by patients with faulty breathing mechanics secondary to poor posture:

  • Chronic pain due to over-activity of the chest, neck, shoulder and back muscles
  • Fatigue, asthma and shortness of breath
  • Muscle tension headaches
  • Bowel, bladder and pelvic floor problems
  • Uncontrolled stress levels
  • Poor exercise performance and tolerance

Once professionally assessed, we can begin to improve your breathing and posture with remedial exercise strategies. The key to core stabilization exercises is to maximize the diaphragm’s efficiency in performing breathing activity and postural tasks at the same time. In our offices, we demonstrate these exercises, also focusing upon proper technique. With your willingness and discipline, you too will notice an appreciable difference.

In conclusion, evaluating your breathing patterns and proper posture are integral components to musculoskeletal functioning. Both contribute to how you move and feel. Adhere to your exercise plan, and you’ll enjoy the benefits of greater health and fitness.

If you have any questions regarding the content of this blog, please contact our offices at any time. In addition, postings of Parts 2 & 3 will provide further conceptual information. It’s always exciting for us to share this knowledge with you, and your comments are welcomed. Thanks for tuning in!

Universal Chiropractic Spine & Sport

Drs. Brett & Nancy Lemire



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