We often take breathing for granted unless we encounter difficulty. Proper breathing draws air in through the nasal sinuses, which warm, moisten and filter the air, and down into the lungs. The ribs expand laterally, the breastbone rises and after a momentary pause air is slowly released the same way, this time, moistening the nasal sinuses before the next inhalation.
Cough results from any irritation in the throat. The body tries to clear the airway by clenching the abs and other muscles of the thoracic wall rapidly. In the case of a food particle, this episode is usually short-lived, but in the case of infection, asthma, or allergies, it can be chronic. Any restriction of proper movement in the ribs and thoracic spine can cause the joints to become “stuck”. This limits lung capacity and makes breathing (and coughing) less effective.
Poor posture also limits expansion of the thoracic cage. If prolonged or frequent, the same joints become stuck. This is like having a balloon or tire that can’t fully inflate-if left that way, the rubber becomes old and loses the ability to inflate permanently. Thankfully, our lungs are more resilient, but as our lung capacity diminishes, so does our ability to oxygenate the entire body.
What is good posture? When sitting, our feet should be flat, knees and hips at 90 degree angles. The back should be straight and eyes straight forward. (So if you’re at your computer looking down to read this, you may have to raise the monitor.) It should feel like a string attached to the vertex of the skull is gently pulling upward. The core muscles engage and inhalation can be felt on the front, sides, and back.
Does that sound hard? Can you maintain it? You should be able to for at least an hour. It takes time getting used to it, but breathing becomes profound and appreciated, rather than taken for granted. It is a worthy pursuit because air must circulate for optimal health. Since Chiropractic “un-sticks” the stuck joints, it is a little utilized adjunctive therapy for coughs and infections. Maintaining your breath is important in any endeavor, so check your posture frequently and consider a chiropractic tune-up when it seems impossible to sit up straight.