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Work without pain! The role of breathing in maintaining proper posture.

An adult human being takes an average of 15 breaths per minute, which makes over 20 thousand breaths in a day. Proper breathing is of fundamental importance for the health of the spine, while "bad breathing" activates muscles in the cervical spine causing a range of pains. It also works the other way around - incorrect posture can cause a disordered breathing pattern. It's hard to say that most of us can't breathe, so it's much more accurate to say that we can't do it effectively. Because the act of breathing is automatic, we tend not to care about how we breathe-we just do it. Our breathing is affected by many external factors that control it (stress, lack of exercise, diet) while we should be in control.


Physiologically, breathing is the flow of air through the lungs in two phases: inspiration and expiration. Thus inspiration is an active phase, during which the inspiratory muscles, including the most important of them - the diaphragm - contract. It is worth noting that, like any other muscle in our body, the diaphragm is also subject to excessive tension and contraction. During proper inhalation, the chest expands to the sides, without causing the shoulders to rise. Exhalation is a passive phase that occurs due to diastole of the expiratory muscles. The chest collapses and returns to the resting position. The process of breathing involves an increase in the volume of the entire chest, especially the area of the lower ribs. This is where the diaphragm attaches, which limits the movement of the chest from below. Therefore, when inhaling, the diaphragm tightens and lowers, increasing the volume of the chest, and when exhaling, it rises and relaxes.


Every form of faulty breathing pattern begins with dysfunction of the diaphragm-the primary respiratory muscle in humans. Lack of diaphragm activity during inspiration does not expand the chest in a downward direction. The muscles in the neck area (oblique muscles, quadriceps, and scapula lever) compensate for the lack of diaphragm activity by lifting the chest and shoulders upward. Long-term overloading of these muscles leads to neck pain, among other things. In addition, the additional respiratory muscles in the thoracic region are involved in respiratory work at the expense of their postural function, leading to an incorrect posture and spinal stabilisation. Prolonged sitting is also not insignificant, often associated with postural defects, lack of mobility, and eventually physical inactivity. In a sitting position, the movement of the diaphragm is limited, so it is not able to work in its full range of motion. This leads to tension in both the diaphragm and all the muscles adjacent to it. Our body is like a domino- when one element is malfunctioning it causes a number of other ailments and side effects. In addition to the above, improper diaphragm function can cause a number of other dysfunctions such as:

  • pains in the spine in all its parts

  • hunched over posture with head protruding forward

  • shoulder pains

  • reflux, heartburn (esophagus passes through the diaphragm)

  • flatulence, constipation

  • circulatory disorders in the lower limbs


In order to imagine the movement of the diaphragm and how it influences the work of the entire body, it is useful to learn about its structure. The diaphragm is a striated muscle that separates the abdominal cavity from the thoracic cavity. It has the shape of a dome with its apex turned towards the chest, on the sides it is attached to the ribs. The diaphragm serves as a stabilizing organ of locomotion, working together with the pelvic floor muscles and the abdominal muscles to create a mechanism of central stabilization. Diaphragm dysfunction affects many areas of our lives. Learning to breathe smoothly and with less effort, as well as relaxing the diaphragm can have a beneficial effect on the most important body systems: nervous, digestive, endocrine (producing hormones) and finally musculoskeletal.


Exercise 1

1.Sit comfortably. Place your hands at the level of your lower ribs and inhale through your nose. You will feel the movement of expanding your chest.Imagine your diaphragm, attached to your lower ribs, moving downward.

2.Exhale with your mouth. Feel the chest and lower ribs return to the starting position and imagine the diaphragm moving upward

3.Take 10 breaths, take 3 seconds and inhale and the same amount of time to exhale.

4.Take care not to lift your shoulders upward.

Exercise 2

1.Lie on your back, bend your knees and place your feet on the floor.

2.Place one hand on your abdomen and the other hand on your chest.

3.Inhale through your nose and lift your abdomen up, trying not to lift your chest.

4.Make an exhalation with your mouth and watch your abdomen return to the starting position and your navel collapse towards your spine.

5.Take 5 breaths taking 4 seconds to inhale and the same amount of time to exhale.


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