We are all very aware of the importance of breathing. We need to adequately breathe in order for our bodies to function througout the day, exchange gases and, so we are able to blow someone a kiss (in the spirit of Valentine’s day – a little late, I know)
It never ceases to amaze me when treating a patient, (for example shoulder pain) on how muscle weakness, tightness and compensatory muscle tone can be a result of inadequate breathing patterns and posture.
Did you know…..
While texting, people hold their breath. Think of the amount of texts you send and receive every day… Holy moly it’s a lot, right?
This results in your poor neck muscles, such as your sternocleidomastoid and scalenes increasing in muscle tension to compensate. So when you think about it, texting, tindering and trawling through your news feed is a huge contributor to poor breathing and those tight shoulders or yours.
Don’t forget to breathe
Having your hands on the keyboard and typing results in a dramatic decrease in abdominal expansion when breathing and an increase in scalene and trapezius activity. This is compared to the same sitting posture but with your hands on your lap.
– Lin Apply Psychophysiology, 2009
Holding your breath subconsciously and breathing with your neck and shoulders is very common in our tech-savvy society. I certainly catch myself doing this a lot throughout the day when I am at the desk.
In order to reduce the hyperactivity and hypertonicity of our neck and shoulder muscles we need to be aware when we are doing this.
Breathing exercises aren’t just for the yoga types – they should be a common element of your wellbeing, just like stretching.
Deep breathing benefits:
– decrease in your sympathetic state
– decrease in muscle tone
– decrease in anxiety
Breathing exercises I like to do and prescribe to my patients…
– Chest and stomach:
Lying on your back with one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Taking in a deep breath and feeling for symmetry in the rise of both hands. (your chest and stomach hands should rise at the same time). Try 10 deep breaths
– Focus on Exhalation:
Slow and controlled deep breaths with a pause at exhalation. This helps to train the endurance of your breathing and increase your awareness of any states of short shallow breaths throughout your busy day.
– Thoracic stretches:
1) Stretching your mid-back: On the floor, lying on your back with a rolled up towel at your shoulder-blade level, taking deep breaths.
2) Bow and arrow stretches: lying on your side, knees bent and arms out straight infront. Pull top arm over and back (like you’re pulling an arrow) and try and get that top shoulder blade to get in contact with the floor. Keeping knees in the same position, this torso twist helps aid your thoracic rotation. Deep breathing throughout the movement is extremely beneficial. Slow and controlled and 1×10 each side.
So next time you’re having a stretch at home or at the gym, counting down the seconds on the microwave or waiting for the ad-breaks to be over; utilise this time to try and counteract that build up of tension your neck and shoulders have endured but doing some of these simple deep breathing exercises.
Hey, you can even throw in a sly ‘Om’ in there at the end for some extra zen.
We are never too busy to look after ourselves, so give it a try and it will amaze you how much you hold your breath and breathe incorrectly throughout the day.
Let me know how you go.
Whether you’re frequently flying or do the odd long haul flight, you may be aware of where the exits are located, but are you aware of the ways you can reduce strain and fatigue on your body during the flight?
- If possible, request an aisle seat. This puts you in a position to stretch out a little more.
- Try and invest in a neck pillow (to be used for your neck and as a lumbar support) and compression socks, as they help to keep your feet from swelling due to changes in pressure and inactivity during flight.
- Prior to getting to the airport, I recommend giving your hip flexors, quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles a stretch. These muscles are in a shortened position when your sitting
- Take the opportunity to stand and walk around the waiting area at your gate prior to boarding; you’ll have plenty of time to sit and relax in the plane
Extended periods of immobility can contribute to aching joints, muscles tightness and swollen feet. The best remedy to these problems is simply to keep moving throughout the flight, walk around the cabin as regularly and as often as possible.
- Get up and go for a walk at least once every hour (even more often if you can, there may be some interesting characters you come across in the cabin)
- Gently stretch your neck, upper back and shoulders; for example, roll your shoulders forward and back, elevate and release your shoulders, and tilt your head side to side, using mid-range of motion. This can be done quite discreetly in your seat
- Tap your toes and move your ankles in circular motions, this will help with circulation (if you have severe pain, redness, warmth and swelling in your calf/calves notify your flight attendant immediately)
- Some in-flight entertainment systems provide programs including stretching and relaxation exercises
- Water, water, water! A common problem of all flights is dehydration, as the air throughout the cabin is not always properly humifidified.
Travellers may suffer from the drying of the mucus in their mouth and nose, which normally act as a protective barrier to bacteria and viruses. To prevent dehydration, try drinking water as regularly as possible throughout the flight, an eye-lubricant such as Bion Tears to prevent dry and itchy eyes and for your face I recommend using a night-time hydrating moisturizer.
- Try and enjoy the long walk to the baggage carousel, it will help to decrease that build up of tightness in your legs
- When it is bag collection time, technique is everything. It makes the bag feel lighter and keeps you injury free; win-win if you ask me. Remember to keep your abdominals engaged, bend your knees, get as close as you can to the carousel before you even try to lift your bag.
For more information ask your physiotherapist!
1A, NYC bound.
The Office Athlete had a chat with the gorgeous Tahyna Tozzi on her workout regime and how she stays injury free.
So what exactly is Xtendbarre?
Xtendbarre is a workout combining elements of Pilates, ballet and other dance methods. It is an overall workout that works the body proportionally so clients can achieve that long lean effect dancers have
How did you stumble across it?
A friend of mine who is a dancer introduced me to it after I explained to her I was getting bored with my usual gym workout and I had hit a plateau.
Do you see a common trend of any strains, niggles or complaints?
Xtendbarre goers tend to address or even avoid during their sessions. When done incorrectly clients can over work their joints in knees and hips. When done correctly Xtendbarre actually strengthens muscles to help combat certain injury strains. There is a strong core element as well which helps clients with posture and over all strength.
What’s your typical workout regime like?
I usually work out 5-6 days a week alternating between a 50 minute run and half hour light weights with Xtendbarre. If I am building towards a specific goal I may do two Xtend classes back-to-back and then finish with night time Yoga. I try to stretch now every chance I get.
Is the main focus of Xtendbarre for weightloss or strength and toning?
The main focus is toning but there is a strong cardio element and Pilates core work at the centre. Giving you a complete body work out. Weightloss comes natural but you will first notice your actual body shape lengthen and change.
What do you see in the future for Xtend Barre?
It is already worldwide, but I have no doubt it will only get bigger as it’s popularity grows! I hope to one day run my own studio combining Xtendbarre and Yoga.
Tahyna received her training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Tahyna has been trained in a large number of dietary theories and studied a variety of practical lifestyle coaching methods. Tahyna helps to create personlized programs and tailors her consults to suit your unique body, lifestyle, preferences, and goals. See more