Breathing Anatomy, Stress and Anxiety
Ever had someone tell to you breathe when you’re stressed or anxious?
while it’s great advice, if the muscles involved in breathing are compromised for whatever reason it might take a little more work to get that deep calming breath.
I had breathing issues for years, probably from a teenager if I think about it. I remember playing in a music competition and the feedback from the judge was I need to stop breathing from my shoulders. I didn’t know how to not breathe from my shoulders despite being a woodwind player.
Throughout my life I’ve had this issue, I could never take a full deep breath. I saw countless practitioners ranging from naturopaths, homeopaths, herbalists, acupuncturists, you name it, I tried it. I had blood work done and was found to have low iron, I took tablets, herbs, had regular treatments and while everything helped it never quite solved my inability to take a full deep breath.
2 years ago I learnt about the anatomy and the mechanics of breathing and everything changed.
In a very brief summary, to take a full deep breath, you have to allow space for the diaphragm to contract downwards into the abdominal cavity. In order for this to happen, the TVA (transverse abdominis) and IAO (internal abdominal oblique) have to eccentrically load or stretch. There are other structures involved, namely the Thoracolumbar Fascia, but if I start talking about my favourite thing we’ll be here forever! If any of these muscles (and Fascia!) are stuck and won’t allow this to happen, your breathing will suffer, along with core and spinal stability.
The key to helping this is to find the areas that surround the diaphragm or the diaphragm itself that are stuck or not functioning properly and encourage them to release or move better. Alongside this, practising breathing drills that work all these muscles will help optimise them - it’s easy to forget the diaphragm is a muscle and like any other muscle to get it to function well we must practise using it properly.
Once I discovered all this and started practicing and optimising my breathing, guess what, no more breathing problems. I can now take a full deep breath any time I want. I’m so much calmer, I sleep better and it helps my entire body to function better.
So if you feel like your breathing is restricted and you feel like you can’t take a deep full breath, you breathe from your chest and it’s making you feel anxious and stressed come and be taught what’s going on and what to do about it and how with a little practise all this can change pretty quickly.
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