Monday, October 18, 2010

Orem Chiropractor - R. Ned McArthur Discusses Proper Breathing

Did you know that the average adult can take as many as 30,000 breaths a day? (That’s a lot of hot air!) Most of never even think about our breathing, unless something interferes with our breathing, like strenuous activity or holding our breath. Not having to think about breathing is actually a good thing though. Can you imagine . . . people would pass out or even die because they “forgot to breathe!”

Just because breathing is an automatic process doesn’t mean that we’re always doing it right. Breathing “right” means providing maximum oxygen to the lungs. Maximum oxygen means more nourishment to all the cells in your body.

So how does breathing happen? The breathing process starts in the blood. All of our cells are continually active doing whatever it is they do. A by-product of their activity is carbon dioxide (CO2). CO2 is an acid. The part of our brain that controls breathing monitors the acid / CO2 levels in our blood. When CO2 levels reach a certain level we breathe in oxygen and blow out carbon dioxide, thus lowering the acid / CO2 level. Because those cells are continually doing what they do, creating more and more CO2 we continually breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide.

The first thing that happens when we take breath is the diaphragm contracts. The diaphragm is a muscle that runs side to side below the lungs. Think of it as a floor the lungs sit on. It contracts or tightens like any other muscle. When the diaphragm contracts it drops down. When it drops the lungs go down with it, which results in them expanding and you breathe in. When the diaphragm relaxes it returns to the original position, pushing up on the lungs, causing you to breathe out.

In simpler terms correct breathing as known as "abdominal" or "belly" breathing. f you’re breathing properly, your lower belly will rise more than your chest.

There are many reasons why healthy people don’t breathe correctly. It could be malfunction, stress, fear, pain, or maybe just trying to make the stomach look tighter. All of these will lead to shallow breathing, which will decrease the amount of oxygen you bring in.

So, how are you breathing? Take a tape measure around your waist, just below your belly button. Pull the tape measure snug, taking note of what the measurement it. Take a deep breath and notice how much your belly expands with a deep breath. Do the same thing two more times. If your belly is not expanding by an inch or more you’re not breathing correctly.

Improper breathing can contribute to headaches, dizziness, fibromyalgia, numbness, sciatica, insomnia, neck pain, back pain as well making it more difficult for your body to heal.

Proper breathing will result in more relaxation, lower heart rate and overall better function because your tissues are receiving adequate oxygen.

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