By Physiotherapist, Kate Pallett

Not many of us think about the way we breathe. It’s an automatic function that is vital for life and affects every system of our body.

If our breathing patterns are abnormal, it can cause pain, poor movement, disrupt sleep, increase anxiety and depression, aggravate gut and intestinal issues, to name but a few. Understanding your own breathing patterns and how to breathe correctly can make a huge difference to many aspects of daily life and can often give you the spring back in your step!

When we look at how someone breathes, we divide the torso into three zones.

Zone 1 is the area below the belly button, Zone 2 is the area around the lower rib cage, and Zone 3 is the upper chest.

For optimal breathing we advise people to take their breath into Zone 1 when laying down or resting (eg raise the belly up as you inhale, relax it down as you exhale), into Zone 2 when actively sitting, standing, and walking (widen the lower rib cage out to the sides as you inhale, relax the rib cage as you exhale) and into Zone 3 (the upper chest) for exercise and more intense movement .

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Issues arise when we breathe into the wrong zone during periods of rest, or when doing different activities. We see, for example, a large number of patients walk into the clinic complaining of neck pain or headaches, and they will often exhibit an upper chest breathing pattern (Zone 3) even when at rest. This can overload the muscles around the neck and head, creating load and tension which often results in a reduced range of movement and pain.

If you have persistent pain or you feel stiff, or there is an injury that you just can’t get on top of, perhaps you might like to have your breathing pattern assessed. It may just be the key to unlocking better posture and movement within your whole system and ultimately reduce your pain.

To make an appointment to improve your breathing patterns with Kate Pallett, call us on (08) 6389 2947 or click here to make an appointment online.