Breathing Exercises – Breathe Easier with Stronger Posture
The fear of struggling to breathe or being put on a ventilator due to Covid-19 is scary. In fact, it’s driving many people to look at how they breathe, and do something proactive to address Forward Head Breathing (FHB).
Opening up posture allows people to address FHB to breathe deeper and more fully. However, it’s by no means a cure for coronavirus. That said, research shows strengthening neglected muscle fibers in the diaphragm and the core strengthens important immune functions. In addition, it reduces stress and relieves many body pains.
Forward Head Breathing (FHB)
Life today is lived at a different rhythm. Instead of working in a field or factory and then sitting down to rest, many of us exist in a sitting position. We spend hours at a desk, in the car, and on the couch. Our bodies forget how to breathe fully because we’re living in a folded posture that’s weak-structurally, functionally and even aesthetically.
Why Breathing Difficulty is on the Rise
The societal problem is getting worse, and modern tech is the culprit. Looking down at smartphones, tablets and other devices folds the head towards the pelvis. This bends the spine and compresses the rib cage. Breathing is immediately restricted. In fact, you can feel the difference in how much air you can take in when looking down at a phone versus when you’re standing tall.
Overtime, muscles and ligaments adapt to the weight of the head jutting forward. The shoulders are pulled inward, rolling together and narrowing the chest. This restricts the expansion of the rib cage and impedes breathing further, while your posture gradually collapses.
Risks of Not Breathing Deeply
The consequence is called Forward Head Breathing (FHB) (1,2), and it’s one reason why even people who exercise regularly but then sit for most of their day are at significantly higher risk of diabetes and heart disease. For those who don’t exercise at all, the risk is nearly double! In addition, early research finds breathing problems in about 25% of Covid-19 cases. The study concludes this “could potentially contribute to worsening hypoxemia and the cytokine storm that occurs in coronavirus patients”.
How Posture Affects Breathing
Posture was, is, and should always be recognized as a pillar of health, especially for heavy users of phones, computers and other tech. Posture professionals, as well as top athletes and active 90 year olds, know posture shapes health. But it also impacts performance and your ability to take a full, deep breath.
You can start improving breath and posture with 5 Strong Breaths. This is one of the beginning breathing exercises in the 7 Steps to StrongPosture® program. This program is used by doctors around the world to open up and use more of your diaphragm.
Breathing Exercise: 5 Strong Breaths
1- STAND A FOOT AWAY FROM THE WALL to release the lower diaphragm.
2- ALIGN YOUR TORSO OVER YOUR PELVIS by leaning back so your shoulders and buttocks touch the wall.
3- LEVEL YOUR HEAD and look straight ahead.
4- BROADEN YOUR CHEST to open your rib cage by pressing shoulders back and down, keeping elbows to the wall, palms facing forward. (If your flexibility allows, press the back of your hands to the wall)
5- STAND TALL AND BREATHE IN for a slow count of 5, keeping your head level.
6- – STAND TALLER AND BREATHE OUT for a slow count of 5, keeping head level.
7- Repeat for 5 Strong Breaths, two or three times a day.
Check that your head stays level – that’s a StrongPosture® MUST. Have a friend take a picture of you from the side while you’re leaning against the wall doing 5 Strong Breaths. A “looking up” posture indicates an imbalance of postural muscles and sets the stage for Forward Head Breathing.
Whether you’re rehabbing post-Covid or proactively strengthening breathing to increase lung capacity, 5 Strong Breaths retrains postural muscles to correct forward head breathing so you can breathe deeper to feel better, relieve stress and look better too.
Dr. Steven Weiniger