A Common Finding – Altered Breathing Patterns

Also see:
Adverse Effects of Mouth Breathing
Hyperventilation and Breathe-More Myth
Carbon Dioxide Basics
Protective Altitude
Chronic hyperventilation; have you got it, what is it, and how do you fix it?
Phospholipases, PUFA, and Inflammation
Estrogen’s Role in Asthma
Unsaturated Fats and Lung Function
Bohr Effect and Cells O2 Levels: Healthy vs. Sick People

Respiration is at the top of the health hierarchy; if you stop breathing, you die. Deviation from normal respiratory function signals a shift away from homeostasis (a state of balance) in the body.

Upon initial assessment, most of my clients come to me with altered respiratory function which I call inverted respiration or chest breathing. Chest breathing is characterized by inhalation that expands the chest and shrinks the abdomen and exhalation that shrinks the chest and expands the abdomen. In this scenario, the individual has defaulted to an auxiliary, faulty respiratory pattern which does not utilize the (thoracic) diaphragm, our major respiratory muscle.

Proper respiratory function uses the diaphragm. During diaphragmatic breathing, upon inhalation the stomach expands as the diaphragm contracts and the chest may expand only during the last third of a deep breath. Upon exhalation the diaphragm relaxes and the stomach gets smaller. Inhalation and exhalation is done through the nose.

Inverted respiration can occur due to poor posture of the head/neck/shoulder complex (upper cross syndrome). Respiratory dysfunction can lead to overuse of auxiliary respiratory muscles, carbon dioxide deficiency, fatigue, lactic acid production, low energy, poor sleep, abdominal wall dysfunction, chronic fatigue, low energy, visceral dysfunction, GI problems, constipation, back pain, decreased performance, and pain syndromes.

Self Test:
Do the following self test lying on your back (supine), seated, and standing.

1. Place hands over stomach.
2. Breathe “normally” and take five breaths through the nose only.
3. Observe what the stomach and chest do during respiration.

You may have different respiratory function depending upon whether you are supine, seated, or standing. You should use the diaphragm irregardless of body positioning. Do you have inverted respiration in any of those postures?

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