Mouth breathing tends to make your head shift forward.
Try it for yourself.
Try it for yourself.
Common situations when the head tends to come forward
- at the laptop or tablet
- on the mobile phone
- when eating or drinking
- when brushing teeth
- when driving
- when talking
- when reading small print
- when picking something up
- when talking to someone
- when looking in the mirror
Check your head position throughout the day. Use a mirror or a family member to help!
Notice how your breathing changes when you tuck your chin in gently towards your throat.
Re-thinking deep breathing
Notice how your breath changes as you hold your torso upright, keeping your ribcage relaxed down.
Think of all the ways you can open your chest by taking your arm(s) away from your torso, keeping your ribcage down of course– feel the tug of war between your ribcage and your arm, anchoring one, then relaxing the other with each exhale.
Improving our breathing (sitting, standing, lying down)
- Awareness of optimal skeletal alignment (use wall, stick or floor if lying down) vs our default position - moving and breathing towards natural spinal curves (neck, thoracic, lumbar curves). How the breath helps us relax toward a more neutral alignment. The air flows more freely up and down a vertical tube than an excessively curved one. We want to create space between the vertebrae to decompress and realign the spine in a gentle way, not in a forceful way. The fascia keeps the shape that the body is mostly held into. Visualisation with the help of the skeleton model.
- How the front of the body directly affects the back - head forward affecting the cervical vertebrae (neck), ribcage forward affecting the thoracic vertebrae (mid-back) and a tucked pelvis affects the lumbar vertebrae (lower back). Notice how the breath changes as you tuck the chin in, relax the ribcage down and untuck your pelvis, which all elongate the various parts of the spine. Keep moving as freely as possible between the two.
- Awareness of the ribcage and the intercostals - expansion of the thoracic cavity enclosed into the ribcage, creating more space for the lungs to inflate. Feeling the expansion on the sides and back, using hands for feedback or the floor if lying down (poster above). The intercostals help ribs move as pairs individually of the whole ribcage. So all the stuck parts can start becoming more supple and we can breathe more freely. allowing us to inhale more air to supply our muscles and other soft tissue with oxygen. When the external intercostal muscles contract and lift the ribs, the upper ribs are able also to push the sternum up and out. This movement increases the diameter of the thoracic cavity, and hence aids breathing further. The circumference of the rib cage should be able to expand by 3 to 5 cm during inhalation. Does that sound like a lot?
- Rethink deep breathing as not using the parts that move well (shoulders up towards the ears, ribcage up and forward) but focusing our attention on mobilising the parts that don't move so well - intercostals, muscles at the side of the ribcage (latissismus dorsi, serratus anterior) and the waist (quadratus lumborum).
- Awareness of how moving the arms away from the torso helps open up the chest and get stuck parts moving (and therefore blood and lymph flowing). Notice the tug of war between ribcage and shoulder - shoulder up, ribcage comes up too? shoulder out to the side, ribcage comes up too? Stabilise/anchor one and see how much you can move the other. That's your baseline. We should be able to move our without also moving the ribcage/spine. If we don't, our shoulder muscles weaken as they are not being used. So it's worth de-coupling arm from ribcage.
- Notice how stepping up and down gets you slightly out of breath => this is our body responding to the increase in activity. The more we move our non-breathing parts (legs, but also arms and waist), the more our breathing parts have to move (diaphragm, intercostals, pectorals, etc.) Start with a tiny step (a book or block) and increase the height of the step as you get fitter. Move slowly at first, then a little faster. Increase height and speed gradually over time.