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The Importance of Breathing

Everyone knows everything about breathing, right? We all do it incessantly from the time we’re born for the entirety of our lives, about 22,000 times a day. We do it without thinking, without trying, never even considering it something worth our attention unless something happens to us that hinders it, and yet it’s the most immediately critical bodily function. It’s more important than food, water, shelter, rest, or any social interaction, as it pertains to staying alive, since none of those other necessities are even capable of being utilized without breathing air all day, every day, even while asleep. Despite the absolute ubiquity and simplicity of breathing, there really is more to be learned about it that can have a positive carryover effect into the rest of our lives.

Although just breathing in & out is basically the extent to which the majority of people go their entire lives, there are practical techniques we can employ to increase our health, both physically and mentally. Such practices have demonstrated clinical significance in the improvement of cognitive performance, and can reduce negative subjective and physiological consequences of stress. Slow breathing in particular has positive effects related to emotional control and psychological well-being. So what sort of breathing exercises can we do to help get stress under control and to relax? Let’s review an easy technique.

To engage in Belly Breathing:

  1. Sit or lie in a comfortable position.
  2. Place one hand on your belly just below your ribs and the other hand on your chest.
  3. Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let your belly push your hand out. Your chest should not move.
  4. Breathe out through pursed lips as though whistling. Feel the hand on your belly go in, and use it to push all the air out.
  5. Do this type of breathing 3-10 times, taking your time with each breath.
  6. Notice how you feel at the end of the exercise.

There are many more somewhat more advanced techniques for you to try when you’ve had a little practice with the above, including 4-7-8 Breathing and the excitingly named Modified Lion’s Breath. For computer and smartphone users, there’s also no shortage of free apps to guide and help you keep track of your progress. If you prefer a personal instructor and/or a group setting, an assortment of local Manatee and Sarasota County classes are only a Google search away.

Your breathing capacity may have suffered if you can’t move around as much as you used to due to joint pain or injury, but you don’t have to let body aches take you out of the healthy life game. The pain experts at Physical Therapy Doctors of Florida know how to put together a treatment plan designed for your particular situation, and they do it without the need for surgery or prescription drugs. We even have breathing specialists like Cynthia Cantwell, who’s had 200 hours of Hatha Yoga teacher-training. To find out what our Physical Therapists can do for you, call us for more information at (941) 264-1415, email us, or send us a message here. Our Physical Therapy Doctors and Assistants are all about helping you move without pain!