Everyone needs to breathe. It doesn’t take a physio to tell you that.
But did you that a lot of people breathe in a very inefficient way and this can be contributing to someone’s neck pain.
Let me explain.
On average we breathe around 21,000 times per day. Quite a bit.
A nice portion of this is done at night time while we sleep and a lot of it is done when we are driving,sitting, watching TV or on your laptop.
Ideally, there should be very little stress placed on the body during these activities, but often, people in these positions breathe like there is a lot of stress been placed on them.
What is an inefficient breathing pattern?
Ok,so we basically have two types of breathing patterns. One that is associated with Fight or Flight and one that is associated with Rest and Digest.
Back in the day when we had to fight and run from wild animals, Fight or Fight was your bodies response that was needed to …… you got it, fight or run.
Your heart rate increased, breathing rate went up, adrenaline was released into your muscles, your body tightened and you were ready for action. Breathing through your mouth is also associated with this but more on that in a little bit .
Rest and Digest is almost self explanatory. Your body needs to relax, use less energy in order to recuperate and digest food if needed. During Rest and digest your heart rate decreases, muscles relax, adrenaline is not used and your breathing rate is nice and relaxed.
Breathing through your nose in a calm, quiet relaxed way is associated with this.
Now, while we don’t face big stressors anymore like we used to, when we had to flee or fight animals, we are been exposed to smaller stressors everyday. Examples are phone calls, emails, appointments, work, money, relationships. All of these can put your body into a fight or flight response.
How does that affect your Breathing Pattern?
During Fight or Flight the tendency is to breathe through your mouth and use your chest more.
To do this, one has to use their neck and lower back muscles more to raise your ribcage and take a big breath through your chest.
This is alright now and again, but if you are sleeping using this breathing pattern, or driving, or watching TV, it can really become a habit. A habit that will mean your neck muscles are constantly working to breathe when they don’t need to be.
When muscles don’t get a rest and have to work excessively, they get tired and grumpy, resulting in pain and stiffness.
So I hope this all makes sense so far.
You can see how this breathing pattern can contribute and lead to neck pain.
Now, tell me the solution.
The solution normally involves a few parts.
Trying to manage your everyday stressors so that you are not spending the majority of your day in Fight or Flight mode.
Trying to manage your breathing pattern so are not excessively breathing like you are running a race.
Try to reduce the tension been placed on your neck muscles and some physical therapy treatment is one of the best answers to this to relax and reset those muscles.
At Midlands Physical Therapy I follow a step by step approach with everyone who comes into me with a problem and is looking for a solution.
If this is something you are looking for then getting help is easy. Just click here to fill in some simple details and we will give you a call back at a time that suits to offer you some advice and direction.
Otherwise you can call us directly on 09064 66761