One of the most common diagnoses at a chiropractor's office is bad posture. Bad posture can lead to an array of problems; however, these problems aren't limited to back pain. One of the more obscure consequences of bad posture is difficulty breathing – but what causes this and how can chiropractic treatment help?
What Causes Bad Posture?
From a musculoskeletal point of view, there are two main underlying causes of bad posture:
While postural problems can be caused by an underlying structural issue (such as Scheuermann's kyphosis), the most common causes of these problems arise from your day-to-day life. The majority of people spend their working day hunched over at a computer, stretching only when they have to leave their desk.
Postural issues are exacerbated at home, as a sedentary lifestyle of watching television or playing the computer causes any existing problems to worsen. The human body was not designed to remain in a fixed position for lengthy periods of time, so it's only natural that your body responds by adjusting its posture to suit its conditions.
How Does This Affect My Breathing?
Although it may seem like an isolated process, breathing actually requires more effort than you may have thought. If you are breathing correctly – with your stomach expanding as you take a deep breath – your chest muscles, lungs, diaphragm and rib cage are all actively working to allow you to inhale as much oxygen as possible. If you have poor posture, these systems are unable to work in unison which causes you to take short, sharp breaths rather than long, deep ones.
This pattern of short, sharp breathing is typically adopted if you experience stress or tension. A rapid pattern of inhaling and exhaling can raise your blood pressure, causing you to feel more "on edge" than usual. Additionally, this process is highly cyclical – poor breathing causes poor posture, which in turn forces you take shorter and shallower breaths. Getting to the root of this problem requires more than simply standing straight, as your body has likely become accustomed to its slouched position over time.
How Can I Improve My Posture and Breathing?
A regular pattern of proper breathing is crucial in improving your overall health. Not only does this improve the vital supply of oxygen throughout your body, but it helps you to remain free from the stress and anxiety of everyday life. However, if you currently have the bad posture associated with poor breathing, this is easier said than done. As such, how can you improve both your posture and breathing to give your body a new lease of life? Well, there are two known ways:
Correct Muscular Imbalances
As mentioned above, a slouched body can lead to muscular imbalances as some muscle groups remain tight while others remain loose. Typically, there are two main muscle pairings that can lead to a poor posture:
As these muscles counteract one another, there has to be a balance in place in order to maintain good posture. A tight chest and weak back will lead to rounded shoulders, while an imbalance in the upper leg muscles will pull on the lumbar spine, forcing it into an awkward position. Acting to correct these imbalances through a proper stretching routine will help the spine restore its natural shape and functionality.
See a Chiropractor
Chiropractors are highly trained, fully qualified practitioners who specialize in treating spinal problems. They do this by manually adjusting your spine, correcting any misalignments between vertebrae and restoring the spine to its gentle 'S' configuration.
If you suffer from poor posture that is affecting your breathing, undergoing chiropractic treatment can do wonders for your spine's health. Restoring your body to a healthy configuration will allow you to breathe more deeply, allowing oxygen to reach your vital organs and thus increasing your overall wellbeing.
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