How Does Our Breathing Have an Effect on Our Posture?
In his enlightening book “Breathe,” James Nestor delves into a profound aspect of our health that is often overlooked: the way we breathe and its deep connection to our body’s posture and metabolic processes. Nestor’s research sheds light on how modern lifestyle changes, particularly since the industrial revolution, have impacted our physical well-being in ways we are only beginning to understand. This blog post explores the key themes of Nestor’s work, and why the diaphragm, and how it works, is vital to good posture and ultimately, optimal movement.
What Is the J-Shaped Spine?
Traditionally, humans maintained a J-shaped spine – a natural alignment that promoted efficient breathing and metabolic functioning. However, Nestor argues that the shift to a more sedentary lifestyle, characterized by prolonged sitting and less physical labor, has led to the loss of this natural spinal curvature. This change in posture has profound implications for our respiratory and metabolic health.
Can the Way We Breathe Lead to Bigger Problems?
Nestor’s research suggests a direct correlation between our breathing patterns and metabolic health. The alteration in spine posture affects how we breathe, shifting from deep, diaphragmatic breaths to shallower breathing. This change not only impacts oxygen intake but also influences our body’s metabolic processes. Nestor goes on to connect these alterations with the prevalence of various health issues, including a notable relation to 8 out of the top 10 cancers that are linked to our metabolic system.
The Diaphragm Is to Movement, As the Heart Is to Circulation
A crucial point in Nestor’s book is the diminished role of the diaphragm as a stabilizer due to modern lifestyle changes. The diaphragm, a key muscle in effective breathing, is less engaged when we adopt poor posture, especially in prolonged sitting or standing. This reduced engagement has a cascading effect on our overall health, highlighting the need for a more active lifestyle that incorporates movements encouraging proper breathing.
Let’s go back 150 years ago. The industrial revolution, which brought about significant shifts in work and daily activities, plays a pivotal role in this transformation. Tasks that once involved physical labor, like lifting and tilling fields, have been largely replaced by jobs that require sitting for extended periods. This shift to a less physically demanding lifestyle (an undoubtedly better overall for our society as a whole- thank you Air Conditioning!) has led us down a path of least resistance, where maintaining efficient control of our spines and proper breathing patterns has become less of a necessity for survival. With all the technology and evidence out there, why are costs to treat low back pain still rising and results not improving?
How Do We Reconnect with Our Body’s Natural Mechanics?
Nestor’s insights call for a reevaluation of our daily habits and posture. To combat the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle, it’s essential to incorporate activities that strengthen the diaphragm, improve posture, and enhance our breathing efficiency. This can range from mindful breathing exercises and regular physical activity to ergonomic adjustments in our work and living spaces.
Ready to Embrace the Power of Breathing?
At ProMet PT, we understand that breathing is more than a mere survival mechanism; it’s a key to thriving health and vitality. We recognize the critical connection between proper breathing, posture, movement, and overall health. Our dedicated team is here to guide you not just in breathing to survive, but in mastering the art of breathing to thrive.
Exhale and Take the Next Step!
- Ready to transform the way you think about posture and join the movement?
- Are you a PT or in the fitness field and want to get in on the conversation?
- Low back or neck pain just won’t go away?
- Tried PT already?
It’s time to try differently. Call today and find out more about how our personalized care plans, that always start from the ground up- with the power of the diaphragm in mind- just might be the difference maker for you!
By Ryan Martin, DPT
Nestor, James. Breath. Penguin Life, 2020.