The act of breathing is second-nature to us as humans – but how many of us have learned the art of breathing well?
The optimal breathing pattern engages the diaphragm (a muscle that sits just under our rib cage) as well as our ribcage. But various factors such as emotional stress, physical pain, poor posture or muscular imbalances can lead to a compromised breathing pattern. We may have reduced activation of the diaphragm and start to recruit our neck and shoulder muscles to assist with breathing, which can lead to other health problems and affect our performance in sport or even regular daily activity.
Do a quick check by placing one hand on your upper chest and one hand on your belly. When you breathe in, do you see mostly your belly moving out or your upper chest and shoulders rising? Are you breathing deeply or with a shallow pattern? Do you tend to hold your breath often, especially when stressed?
Make it a habit to practice slow, diaphragmatic breathing, and remember not to hold your breath.
Simply being aware of and correcting your breathing pattern can go a long way!
Have questions? Email Abby at firstname.lastname@example.org.