Everybody knows that breathing is critical to survival. It is rightly referred to in the emergency medical system as a vital sign. However, if breathing is so critical to our very existence have you ever considered how critical it may be to your day to day health and ultimate health outcomes?

The Common Belief About Breathing

Most people think that as long as your breathing you must be doing it right otherwise you would be dead! But is that actually the case?  Is there a right and wrong way to breathe and if there is a wrong way to breath what are the consequences for getting it wrong day after day?

To understand what is wrong one must first understand what is right.

Essential Habits to Improve Breathing

In 10 years of clinical practice training people of all ages with breathing disorders, ranging from mild to severe, I have found the following factors to be critical for functional breathing to be present:

  1. The habitual at rest breathing rate needs to be slow between 6 and 10 breaths per minute in most cases.
  2. Habitual breathing should be nasal. There should be no use of the mouth for the in or out breath.
  3. Habitual breathing should recruit the diaphragm with full range of motion. There should be no upper thoracic breathing.

Time and again those who present with breathing related health problems do not possess these breathing habits. Once these breathing habits are established their health routinely improves.

Breathing and Our Health as a Whole

It is important to note that often clients presenting with conditions seemingly unrelated to breathing such as anxiety, hypertension, eczema and even some cardiac conditions are found to have a breathing disorder. Once this is corrected a significant reduction in chronic symptoms often occurs.

Article by Dean O'Rourke, Breathing Therapist at ATUNE Health Centres.

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