Better breathing for life
Breathing is unconscious isn’t it? Well yes, most of the time. But many day to day stressors may make our breathing erratic, sometimes too fast, and often too shallow. Dysfunctional breathing can, over time become habitual and in turn lead to unpleasant symptoms such as giddiness, breathlessness and even muscle pains. And for people with asthma or other respiratory disease it´s even more important to breathe efficiently.
Here’s ten top tips to better breathing for life:
1. Breathe through your nose: The nose is part of the respiratory system with immune and protective properties. If you have difficulty with clearing your nasal passages, why not try a nasal douche available from most chemists?
2. Keep your lips closed: Open mouthed breathing dries our mouth and can be a cause of bad breath. Plus, keeping the mouth closed encourages us to use our nose for breathing!
3. Reduce your upper chest movement: Place one hand on the top of your chest and another over your tummy just below your breast bone. As you take a breath in you should feel your tummy move out under your hand but ideally there will be very little movement at your upper hand. This means your diaphragm (the big muscle designed for breathing) is doing most of the work not the smaller muscles of your rib cage.
4. Don´t feel compelled to take a deep breath, better breathing is about getting the air lower into your lungs rather than getting more air in.
5. Use counting to pace yourself as you breathe in and out. Breathe in for a count of 4, pause and then breathe out for 4.
6. Slow down!! Most of us breathe too fast if we are feeling stressed or anxious, the normal breathing rate for a healthy adult is around 16 to 20 breathes per minute. What´s yours?
7. Relax! Check your shoulder position, release any muscle tension. Some people find it helps to say something in their head as they breathe out, try “calm” or “relax”.
8. If you´re feeling very tense and need help to relax making the breath out a little longer than the breath in helps us feel less stressed as it lowers the heart rate.
9. If you find you get breathless when moving around or going upstairs try breathing out through pursed lips, remember this little mantra “when in doubt breathe out.”
10. Practicing these breathing techniques in your daily life will improve the efficiency of your breathing meaning that more oxygen will get around your body. You’ll have more energy and find it easier to cope with stressful situations.
Better breathing for life means better living!
If you want help putting any of these tips into practice, please do give me a call.
Colegio de Fisioterapeutas (6968)
M.Sc Post. Grad. Dip. Physiotherapy. PGC Teaching and Learning
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