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Do you breathe correctly?

 

There's nothing more natural (or more important) than breathing. Yet, as automatic as it may be, good breathing doesn't come easily to everyone.

 

In fact, no less than one in ten people experience breathing disorders, with symptoms ranging from fatigue in the neck and shoulder to headaches, panic attacks, dizziness, tingling in hands and feet, disturbed sleep or frequent yawning and sighing.

 

Correct breathing is done through the nose, which filters, warms and humidifies the air.

 

Our main breathing muscle is the diaphragm. Dome shaped, sitting below the lungs, it does 80% of the breathing work. The remaining 20% is carried out by the neck and shoulder muscles, which are used more when we require more oxygen such as when exercising.

 

The normal adult rate of breathing at rest is 10-14 breaths a minute. The upper chest should remain fairly still and your neck and shoulder muscles relaxed. Breathing incorrectly can cause an overuse of the wrong muscles and lead to a breathing pattern disorder (BPD).

 

When wrong breathing habits have been acquired, re-learning to breathe correctly takes time and practice but can be done (and the symptoms eliminated) over a 6-8 week period. It requires specific skills to assess and help retrain the correct breathing pattern.

 

Jo Eames is Focus Health's certified Bradcliff Breathing Practitioner.