Good posture is something you hear a lot about as a kid. I can remember distinctly hearing my mom say, “Sit up tall and put your shoulders back!” You might remember your own mom (or dad or caregiver) telling you something similar.
Yet here we are today in our computer-centric culture, constantly rounding forward with our phones or slouching with our laptops. The resulting neck, shoulder, and back problems seem to be the new norm.
That’s why we’ve partnered with Dr. Steven Weiniger to provide his StrongPosture® program to the Yoga Calm community. It’s a fantastic complement to our yoga practices, which we think you’ll see about reading this recent post of his about how neck position affects breathing…
Forward Head Breathing
Breathing Exercises – Breathe Easier with Stronger Posture
The fear of struggling to breathe or being put on a ventilator due to COVID-19 is scary. In fact, it’s driving many people to look at how they breathe and do something proactive to address Forward Head Breathing (FHB).
Opening up posture allows people to address FHB to breathe deeper and more fully. However, it’s by no means a cure for coronavirus. That said, research shows that strengthening neglected muscle fibers in the diaphragm and the core strengthens important immune functions. In addition, it reduces stress and relieves many body pains.
Forward Head Breathing (FHB)
Life today is lived at a different rhythm. Instead of working in a field or factory and then sitting down to rest, many of us exist in a sitting position. We spend hours at a desk, in the car, and on the couch. Our bodies forget how to breathe fully because we’re living in a folded posture that’s weak-structurally, functionally, and even aesthetically.
Why Breathing Difficulty Is on the Rise
The societal problem is getting worse, and modern tech is the culprit. Looking down at smartphones, tablets, and other devices folds the head towards the pelvis. This bends the spine and compresses the rib cage. Breathing is immediately restricted. In fact, you can feel the difference in how much air you can take in when looking down at a phone versus when you’re standing tall.
Over time, muscles and ligaments adapt to the weight of the head jutting forward. The shoulders are pulled inward, rolling together and narrowing the chest. This restricts the expansion of the rib cage and impedes breathing further, while your posture gradually collapses.
Risks of Not Breathing Deeply
The consequence is called Forward Head Breathing (FHB) (1, 2), and it’s one reason why even people who exercise regularly but then sit for most of their day are at significantly higher risk of diabetes and heart disease. For those who don’t exercise at all, the risk is nearly double! In addition, early research finds breathing problems in about 25% of COVID-19 cases. The study concludes that this “could potentially contribute to worsening hypoxemia and the cytokine storm that occurs in coronavirus patients.”
How Posture Affects Breathing
Posture was, is, and should always be recognized as a pillar of health, especially for heavy users of phones, computers, and other tech. Posture professionals, as well as top athletes and active 90-year olds, know posture shapes health. But it also impacts performance and your ability to take a full, deep breath.
You can start improving breath and posture with “5 Strong Breaths.” This is one of the beginning breathing exercises in the 7 Steps to StrongPosture program. This program is used by doctors around the world to open up and use more of your diaphragm.
Breathing Exercise: 5 Strong Breaths
- STAND A FOOT AWAY FROM THE WALL to release the lower diaphragm.
- ALIGN YOUR TORSO OVER YOUR PELVIS by leaning back so your shoulders and buttocks touch the wall.
- LEVEL YOUR HEAD and look straight ahead.
- BROADEN YOUR CHEST to open your rib cage by pressing shoulders back and down, keeping elbows to the wall, palms facing forward. (If your flexibility allows, press the back of your hands to the wall.)
- STAND TALL AND BREATHE IN for a slow count of 5, keeping your head level.
- STAND TALLER AND BREATHE OUT for a slow count of 5, keeping head level.
- Repeat for 5 Strong Breaths, two or three times a day.
Check that your head stays level – that’s a StrongPosture MUST. Have a friend take a picture of you from the side while you’re leaning against the wall doing 5 Strong Breaths. A “looking up” posture indicates an imbalance of postural muscles and sets the stage for Forward Head Breathing.
Whether you’re rehabbing post-COVID or proactively strengthening breathing to increase lung capacity, 5 Strong Breaths retrains postural muscles to correct forward head breathing so you can breathe deeper to feel better, relieve stress, and look better, too.
So let’s stand tall! Our mothers would be proud!
Interested in taking Dr. Weiniger’s course? He’s offering a special 15% discount to the Yoga Calm community. Just enter the discount code YOGACALM15 at checkout.
2. Is There a Relationship Between Thoracic Dimensions and Pulmonary Function in Early Onset Scoliosis? Glotzbecker, Michael MD; Johnston, Charles MD; Miller, Patricia MS; Smith, John MD; Perez-Grueso, Francisco Sanchez MD; Woon, Regina MPH; Flynn, John MD; Gold, Meryl BA; Garg, Sumeet MD; Redding, Gregory MD; Cahill, Patrick MD; Emans, John MD (28 May 2014). Spine.
International posture expert Dr. Steven Weiniger has helped millions of people eliminate pain and regain control of their health with his StrongPosture concepts. As an appointed delegate to the White House Conference on Aging (WHCoA), he helped to develop recommendations for the President of the United States and Congress on issues, policy and research in the field of aging. He lectures worldwide and is the author of Stand Taller Live Longer – Posture & Anti-Aging Strategy. A sought after expert in national media, Dr. Weiniger’s contributions appear on NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, Global News, Oxygen, AARP, Golf Central Magazine, SHAPE Magazine, Bottom Line Health, Women’s Health, Real Simple Magazine, Martha Stewart Weddings, Family Circle and Prevention.