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Poor breathing habits and chronic neck pain

Poor breathing habits and chronic neck pain

By : Avish Sharma – Ostopathic Practitioner – Pure Healthcare Albany 


Take a deep, full breath.  Now take another. Do you notice, as you breath in and out, your shoulders rise and fall.  Now take another deep breath and this time notice, that you are not consciously contracting the muscles that lift your shoulders.  This movement, the rising and falling of your shoulders, ribs, collar bone and shoulder blades are all as natural as the breath itself.  Now, breathe again, and appreciate that the muscles that lift your shoulders and chest, extend all the way up in to your neck and the base of your skull.  Therefore breathing with your neck, chest and shoulder muscles that are out of balance, can even give you a headache!


Breathing is the most basic and yet arguably the most vital act that our body needs to perform in order to stay alive. If done poorly, it may lead to neck pain, and ultimately a headache. Neck pain is considered a major health issue and can lead to serious adverse effects such as nerve irritation, changes in blood flow to the head, chronic pain, and even arthritis.  These conditions eventually lead to stress, impact our family life, decrease our performance at work and in sport, and decrease our fitness.


The question is; how do poor breathing habits cause neck pain? Here is a brief explanation, to a very complicated process.  Poor breathing requires muscles that are connected to your neck and head to be overused.  These neck muscles are not designed to be the primary drivers of breathing mechanics in your body, they are meant to assist your diaphragm when laboured or heavy breathing occurs. You may have heard of breathing from your “tummy” or your abdomen as a phrase commonly used by yoga or pilates instructors. This technique of breathing helps to engage the diaphragm muscle instead of the neck muscles. Therefore “poor breathers” may experience tight and overused neck muscles which often results in chronic neck pain.


There is hope for “poor breathers”! You can retrain your body to “belly breathe” (breathe from the abdomen) and engage the diaphragm and use the muscles of the neck more appropriately. This breathing retraining can help relieve neck pain which will result in a better quality of life for you.


As an Osteopathic Practitioner, I will be able to help relieve your neck pain with osteopathic care.  This would include retraining your body to use proper breathing techniques. We can also speed up your recovery by reducing the tension and stiffness in your neck, ribs, and shoulders using a variety of gentle osteopathic techniques.  As I practice with a team here at  Pure Healthcare in Albany, I can also refer you for acupuncture, naturopathic, chiropractic, massage services, if this is required.  When we work as a team, with you as the “manager”, we greatly enhance your path to better breathing, and better health, so that you can get back to living your life free of pain, and full of vitality.


As a special until 30 June 2017, I can see you on ACC for free.  We can use an existing ACC claim, or, if appropriate, we can open an ACC claim for you.  No GP referral is required.  Please call the clinic for further information.

09 414-2225    http://www.purehealthcare.co.nz/AboutUs/TheTeam/AvishSharma.aspx