Breathing is automatic – one thing our body does completely on auto-pilot and with complete success. Right?? Well, yes and no. We don’t have to think about breathing, that is true, but if we do pay attention to how we breathe, we can reap the benefits for our spine.
When we experience pain, we tend to breathe shallow, pull our shoulders forward, and collapse our chest. What we should be doing is the exact opposite. We want to breathe deeply and direct that oxygen to where it hurts.
I’m explaining this because I just met Jannean, a customer who was in obvious pain. As we were moving around the store she kept stopping and holding onto something so I asked her if she was out of breath. She said, no, it just hurt so much she had to stop and then she told me her chiropractor had just told her to open her chest more and breathe deeper. I had an intuition and asked her, “How is that going?” The look I received gave me the answer I expected: it was not going well. I guided her to the sofa in our lobby and sat down next to her so we could chat. It turns out she expected the pain to get worse if she took a deep breath – but when she followed my lead and sat up really tall, her deep breath did not increase her pain. With shoulders down and back and her spine lengthened up through the top of her head, deep breathing actually lessened her pain just a bit. Jannean simply needed to know how to breathe.
Lesson #2: Don’t trust your breathing instincts when you are in pain. This is the time you really want to focus on your posture and your breathing at the same time and breathe deeply.