Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Most people I know are actually suffocating. 

I ask all of my patients if they know how to breath. Funny enough, most of them don't. It seems kind of self explanatory- if you just exhaled, inhale and vice versa. Actually, there is a lot more to breathing correctly.

Good breathing requires full use of the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a large flat muscle that attaches to the spine, bottom of the rib cage, and sternum. There is an attachment (called the central tendon) to the sack the heart rests in(pericardium).  

A good breath means the diapragm contracts down and pulls air into the lungs. The chest should not have much movement. The belly should protrude out. When you exhale the belly button moves towards the spine. If your chest heaves up and down with breathing you are not doing it right.

Correct breathing improves oxygenation of the body. It helps circulation and strengthens the heart. The heart actually gets a "massage" from the sac it sits in. There is a study that suggests that chest breathing occurs in most if not all heart attack victims.

A strong diaphragm also helps maintain the low back curve (lumbar lordosis). Remember, the diaphragm attaches to the spine? This means your breathing is connected with spine form and function. It also means that if you had a spine injury you may not be breathing well and don't even know it.

When you get overly tired or stressed what should you do? Breath. It helps you to relax.

If you want to practice correct breathing- sit up tall, put your hand over your belly button, and inhale pushing your hand away with your belly. Then exhale and squeeze your belly to bringing your hand towards your spine. Try to inhale for 4 seconds and exhale for 8 seconds.

If this feels awkward to you- congratulations you have now recognized that you have a problem that you can correct. As you practice and progress, maintain the exhale twice as long as the inhale. If you really want to step it up- try this exercise on a Pettibon Wobble Chair with full spinal motion. Not sure what that is? Call Deb at 253-858-2474 and she can teach you.