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  • Writer's pictureJohn K Maltby II, D.C.

Breathe, Just Breathe

Updated: Mar 25, 2022

Have you ever tried to blow up a balloon while someone was sitting on it? I haven’t and I have no desire to try. When you hold yourself in an awkward position and carry yourself poorly that is exactly what you are telling your body it has to do in order to breath.

Another example: have you ever been lying on your stomach and someone sits on you? It’s pretty hard to breath at that point. The two balloons in your chest, your lungs, operate much better if they are given the proper room and position needed.

Why do you think Olympic athletes like to train in high altitudes? Because the thinner air up there makes their body adapt to take in more air and transport it to what tissues need it. When they leave the high altitude and come back down the mountain, the body still takes in the larger amount of oxygen and they have an increase in energy and stamina. This is called blood doping and this technique is a legal way of trying to get an advantage over your opponent.

Well, we are not all athletes looking to get the edge on the competition, but we are trying to get the edge on life itself. Bad posture means less oxygen, less oxygen means less energy and stamina.

A 2006 report by the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation found that bad posture “slumping” produced the worst lung capacity and expiratory flow. And not really a big surprise, normal sitting and standing is better.

Slumping in a chair produces bad results, but so can slouching or rounding your shoulders while standing. Your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones begin to adapt to your constant slouching and reshape themselves to what they think you want. (See Movement is Life Blog)

Simply stretching for a few minutes a day will not correct any of these bad habits. That is exactly what they are, bad habits. What is a habit and how do you change it? A habit is something that is a part of your lifestyle, and to change it is to change your life.

Now, when I say it like that it sounds almost impossible. Why do you think quitting a bad habit is so hard? You are addicted to a certain way to living and you are perfectly comfortable to stick with it and not change, because that is the easy thing to do. What I am not talking about here is smoking, drinking, or eating fast food everyday, but holding yourself upright and being aware of how you carry yourself physically. Changing a physical habit can be annoying at first but after you get the hang of it you will wonder how you ever lived your life doing it any other way.

Let us start with something that seems simple enough, brushing your teeth. First, if you are not doing this everyday, then that is the habit you need to develop. If you are already brushing everyday like you should be, then start brushing your teeth with the opposite hand. If you use your left hand normally then switch to your right, and vise versa. Do not give up the first time, and remember it is a physical habit that you are changing. Actually you are changing your neurology and by sticking with this simple change you will create new connections in your brain and become smarter.

Four weeks. That is how long it will take for you brain to make the connections necessary to start a permanent change. So, even though you have changed a physical habit for a week, keep going. Even after the four weeks are over, you still need to practice this new habit, because after that initial four-week period is when the physical changes start to happen.

Now the muscle, tendons, ligaments and bone start to adapt to the new input they are getting to make this habit of yours stick for good. There is no set time when, whatever you are trying to change, will take affect just keep at it. Eventually it will seem to come naturally and you will have that ah-ha moment.

I started this off talking about breathing, right? Trust me, you do not want to read about all that is involved in breathing, it’s a lot. So, if you want more energy, to sleep better, think clearer, maybe loose a few pounds (all benefits to proper breathing), then you will do all you can to correct your posture to start your journey towards proper breathing.

Here is a list of things that will help you breath better and start you on the road to proper adaptation to get your brain to rewire itself the way you want it to.

  • Sleep on a good mattress and a good pillow. You spend at least 1/3 of your day in one position, make sure you are doing all you need to make it count.

  • Maintain a Normal weight. Excess weight makes your body work harder to keep itself upright, sitting or standing.

  • Regular exercise. This not only helps with your weight, but it strengthens the muscles needed to keep yourself upright and breathing properly.

  • Good vision. If you have trouble seeing things you will find yourself hunching over to look at things better. Get your eyes checked, and check your vanity at the door if you need glasses.

  • GET ADJUSTED. This is the last on the list and the most important. You have probably had the same bad habit and posture for years upon years. Getting checked and adjusted by your Chiropractor tells your brain that you want to change the bad habits and positions you’ve been in. The adjustment not only encourages muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones to move to proper positions it jump starts the change in your brain that is needed to get everything adapting properly.

Getting that regular Adjustment from your Chiropractic helps to ensure your body is not going back to bad habits. It is also good to have an expert set of eyes watching you to make sure you are meeting those bad habit breaking goals to keep you on track.

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