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Breathing Techniques for Better Health

Breathing is vital for life; it’s automatic yet crucial. The way we breathe impacts health and well-being. Nasal inhaling benefits and mouth-breathing consequences affect stress and performance. This blog is a guide to improving breathing for a healthier life.

The Significance of Mouth Breathing

While it may seem like a minor issue, breathing through your mouth can have profound effects. It’s not just a simple habit; it can be a red flag for underlying health issues like chronic allergies, asthma, or anatomical problems such as a deviated septum. The impact of this seemingly innocuous act is surprisingly vast and diverse.

Benefits of Nasal Breathing

On the flip side, nasal breathing is not just the ‘default’ mode of the respiratory system; it’s superior in many ways, contributing to better health outcomes across the board.

Improved Oxygen Intake

Inhaling through the nose engages a complex process that warms, humidifies, and filters the incoming air, which improves the oxygenation of the body. Additionally, nitric oxide, a molecule produced in the sinuses, is carried into the lungs with nasal breathing, dilating the blood vessels in the lungs, which can result in better oxygen uptake by the hemoglobin.

Stress Reduction

Nasal breathing has a calming effect on the central nervous system. It activates the parasympathetic response, often referred to as the ‘rest and digest’ system, which can help reduce anxiety and stress levels.

Enhanced Athletic Performance

Athletes have long known the power of breath in improving performance. Nasal breathing can improve endurance, delay the onset of fatigue, and help maintain optimal blood oxygen saturation levels during physical exertion.

Techniques for Proper Breathing

Achieving the switch from mouth to nasal breathing might seem simple, but it often requires a concerted effort. Here are some techniques to get started.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as “abdominal breathing,” involves inhaling through the nose, allowing the diaphragm to expand and the belly to rise. This type of breath allows for oxygen to reach deep into the lower lobes of the lungs.

Box Breathing

Popular among tactical athletes such as the Navy SEALs, box breathing is a technique that involves inhaling, holding your breath, exhaling, and then holding your breath again – all for four counts each.

Alternate Nostril Breathing

This yoga-inspired technique involves blocking one nostril with a thumb while inhaling through the other, then switching nostrils to exhale. It’s believed to harmonize the two hemispheres of the brain and promote a state of balance.

Incorporating Breathing Exercises into Daily Routine

Adopting these techniques into your daily routine is key to reaping the benefits of proper breathing. Here are a few ways to make it a habit.

Morning Routines

A few minutes of focused breathing upon waking can set the tone for the day. Consider using the first moments after you wake to perform a few rounds of your preferred breathing exercise.

Pre-Workout Rituals

Box breathing or diaphragmatic breathing can be implemented as part of your warm-up routine to center yourself before physical activity and ensure you’re starting out with the correct respiratory patterns.

Stress Management Practices

At times of stress, a simple breathing technique can be your best ally. Whether you’re at work or dealing with daily stressors, taking a moment to engage in intentional breathing can help keep you calm and focused.

How a Physical Therapist Can Help with Mouth Breathing

Physical therapists often work on improving breathing patterns through various means, from manual therapy techniques on the thoracic spine to specific exercises that encourage nasal breathing. Their expertise can help individuals who struggle with mouth breathing to develop a more effective pattern, with broader implications for their health.

Conclusion

Proper breathing is crucial for our health. Our breath affects sleep, athletic performance, and overall well-being. Nose breathing and proper techniques empower us to control our respiratory health, benefiting our vitality. Breathing practices impact various aspects of health, from dental hygiene to physical capacity, extending beyond survival.

Shamaine Physiophyx PT
AUTHOR

Dr. Sharmaine Longsworth

DPT, CIDN, Owner and Founder of Physiophyx PT

"We Help People Get Rid of Pain & Injuries and Return to an Active Lifestyle Without Pain Meds, Injections, or Surgery."
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