Breath In, Breath Out: Improper Breathing=Pain

Major Pain!  Thanks Damon Wayans! The upper-crossed syndrome is a term for slouched posture that can lead to numerous  musculoskeletal injuries and imbalances.  If you look in the mirror and are two hairs short of looking like Quasimoto, you are PLAGUED WITH UPPER CROSSED SYNDROME! Dun Dun DUNNNN!  A majority of the population suffers from this due occupation or inactivity.  Shoulder pain, headaches, neck pain and even lower back pain stem from this dreaded posture. If you want a basic fix, check out one of my posts here. I spend weeks and even months correcting the posture of individuals in order to achieve optimal spinal alignment and muscle function.

Now, here's a little curve ball. Would you ever think that your breathing style would have the same detrimental effects?  When someone takes shorter breaths throughout the day, secondary respiratory muscles are used.  These secondary muscles are basically all the muscles around the neck (scalenes, sternocleidomastoid, upper traps, levator scapula).  This results in overuse that makes deep neck muscles weak which then lead to a chain of events in the shoulders.

What muscles SHOULD be used?  Funny you should ask.  Here are a few.
 Transverse Abdominus

Notice that the muscles are around the rib cage and abdominal region.  Abdominal breathing is our body's preferred style of respiration as it allows us to obtain as much oxygen as possible.  Medical studies have shown, our bodies kind of need oxygen.  I'm not sure if it's true, I may have to check my sources.  Among the many benefits of breathing, performance-wise it aids in ATP(energy) production and clears out pyruvic acid (which turns into lactic acid).  In Bikram yoga there is a breathing exercise or pranayama that forces the proper respiratory muscles to be used. 
I figure you would rather see her in those shorts instead of me! Try this everyday.

  • During the first part of the exercise, you must press your chin down into your hands which activates deep cervical flexors (deep neck muscles) which inhibits the secondary respiratory muscles stated earlier from activating.  The elbows lifting up expands the rib cage (intercostals, diaphragm) inducing greater inspiration.
  • The second part you force an exhale creating an efficient pathway and draw in the navel (transverse abdominus) to get all the CO2 waste out of your system.
BOTTOM LINE:  Take your time to breath, you will be happier and perform so much better in life and physical activities.  


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