Breathing Through Change
It has been an unexpected, anxiety ridden, and unpredictable year and a half for everyone in Los Angeles. Each day brings different news and updates related to COVID-19. Changes in masking, changes in case load, changes in vaccine policies. Venues open, venues close. Events planned. Events Cancelled.
Navigating life in Los Angeles is like steering a giant ship in a sea of moving ice bergs. How does one prioritize appropriately, stay healthy, and carry on with life all at the same time?
Our first priority at Pilates On Robertson is BREATHING. Bringing people back into real space into the Pilates studio and on the Pilates equipment away from the non-contact virtual world of endless meetings and distance learning has revealed the one thing we have stopped or forgotten. Breathing properly. The increased screen time, sitting at desks and on couches, and immeasurable stress have led to universal shallow breathing. We have been holding our breath for 1.5 years. We have been shallow shoulder breathing.
How do you know if you have been shoulder breathing? Why is it so bad?
There are a few easy to spot signs and symptoms that you are shoulder breathing:
Tight neck and neck pain with restricted range of motion.
Rounded shoulders and collapsed chest.
Shoulders which rise and lower when breathing.
Why is shoulder breathing so bad?
Using external shoulder muscle groups to inhale leads to a vicious cycle of sending the head forward which ultimately leads to the breakdown of the delicate cervical spine.
Shoulder breathing over time rolls and rounds the shoulders forward to the point of impingement of the complex shoulder joint causing pain and restricted arm movement.
Shoulder breathing leads to a reverse compensation backwards of the thoracic spine and ribcage, weakens core connection, tightens back muscles which can cause back pain and potential for back injury.
What should we do to correct our breathing?
Neck and shoulder stretches are not enough to undo the effects of shallow shoulder breathing. The solution lies in a complete overhaul and reorganization of breathing and posture. This requires finding and connecting with the internal force from within to exhale completely, Then combining that with an internal pull to draw air deeper into the lungs. All this needs to take place with the awareness of postural alignment.
Try these three steps and introduce yourself to healthy breathing.
Inhale from your back lower ribs and expand into the middle to lower back instead of lifting your shoulders. It will feel like a smaller inhale than normal
Exhale by funneling your ribcage downwards, creating an internal force upward to expel the air completely from the bottom of your lungs.
Exhale three to four times longer than you inhale and feel your abdominals contracting and connecting.
Try this for 10 breaths, then see if you can increase the number of repetitions.
Benefits of healthy breathing include:
Decreased neck pain
Decreased back pain
So, is it worth the effort to move and breathe with focus and attention? Let's try together, try Pilates, and see.......