Scoliosis Often Causes Dysfunctional Breathing Patterns That Cause The Spine To Coil Up
Yahoo News posted an article recently on the Danger’s of Dysfunctional Breathing by Amy Schlinger at Q by Equinox, a fitness site. This article talks about the importance of the fundamental movement of breathing in fitness. While most of us take breathing for granted, improper respiratory movements can adversely affect your health and lead to pain and injury in many parts of the body. This is especially true with scoliosis, which often presents with abnormal patterns of breathing.
Many times people with scoliosis have a paradoxical diaphragmatic breathing pattern as well as abnormal rib cage movements with breathing. This is in part due to the overuse of their secondary muscles of respiration in their upper chest during inhalation, rather than using the primary muscle of respiration called the diaphragm. The use of these upper chest muscles in respiration is usually reserved for times where your body needs an extra boost of O2, like when at the end of a 100 yard dash. It causes the characteristic “heaving” type breathing movement that you see in sprinters at the end of a race.
An easy way to evaluate this is to stand in front of a large mirror and watch yourself breath. If while inspiring your shoulders rise and your belly goes in, your diaphragm likely has a paradoxical breathing pattern. What you should see instead is that your rib cage should expand at the bottom as your belly pushes out. Conversely, on exhalation your lower rib cage and belly should deflate back in.
Animation of Normal Respiratory Cycle
Below is an animation of how the rib cage should move normally during a normal respiration cycle.
In proper respiration as the diaphragm descends and the lower rib cage expands it causes a negative pressure to occur that pulls air into the lower parts of the lungs. This is where the most efficient oxygen exchange takes place.
Animation of Diaphragm Descending During Inspiration
When this doesn’t happen the body gets less oxygen overall and you tend to fatigue more easily. Additionally, the rotational pattern of the scoliosis causes worsening of the rib hump because of the expansion of the lung cavity on that side. Airflow into the lungs will always take the path of least resistance so when you breath in, air will tend to fill first in the expanded side, which in turn causes further rotation of the rib cage and worsening of your scoliosis.
This results in weakness and adaptive shortening of the tissues which can cause the scoliosis to coil up further, like a spring and this can cause a progression of your curves.
Specific Breathing Exercises for Scoliosis
To learn more about scoliosis specific breathing exercises to help improve the dysfunctional breathing patterns found in scoliosis click here.
To read this article click here or on the pdf below to access this link.