01 Dec How Your Breathing Can Help Your Pain!
As a physiotherapist we spend a lot of time teaching people how to breathe. This may sound silly, because we breathe all day every day to stay alive, but it is actually very important to breathe well.
When we see people who are in a lot of pain, we notice that movements such as getting in and out of a chair or turning in bed is usually accompanied by a few moans and groans and breath holding.
Holding your breath can make it more difficult to move by bracing the muscles and it also tells our brain that pain is coming so puts us on high alert. By exhaling on an effort, this stops us from bracing so much and makes it easier and more comfortable to move. You can practice this by inhaling to prepare to stand up, and as you stand, exhale. Simple!
Other ways breathing can affect how we function is by looking at how the ribcage moves. Often we see people breathing into the top of their lungs, which is less efficient and can make the muscles around the neck and shoulders work harder. It can also affect how our abdominal wall and pelvic floor muscles function as the diaphragm makes up the top of the abdominal wall and works together with these muscles.Ribs move like bucket handles, when you breathe in, they move out and up and when you breathe out, they move in and down. By allowing the lower rib cage to expand and the belly to soften as we inhale and move back in as we exhale, we get a much more co-ordinated and efficient way of