Belly Breathing: A Secret Weapon for Neck Pain Relief

girl belly breathing for neck pain relief

Do you have neck pain that simply won’t go away? You’ve tried stretching, ergonomic consults, self myofascial release, and even strengthening. These provide temporary relief but the neck pain just keeps on returning. It may be time to address your breathing which has been contributing to your high stress levels and neck tension without you even realizing it. 

Focus on your Breathing

Without reading ahead I want you to note if your chest is expanding or if your belly is expanding. If your chest is expanding that indicates that you are using accessory muscles to breathe instead of your primary respiratory muscles. When we inhale our thoracic cavity has to expand in order for the pressure within our lungs to drop below atmospheric pressure. When our chest expands we use accessory respiratory muscles such as our SCM, scalenes, pec minor, trapezius, and levator scapulae to expand our thoracic cavity. The use of these muscles to breathe places additional stress on the muscles of our neck which are already abused from working your 9-5. 

Not only are we overworking these neck muscles with chest breathing, our body taps into our fight or flight nervous system. Accessory respiratory muscles are meant to be used when our body needs to increase oxygen intake and release excess carbon dioxide. If you are exercising or running away from a tiger it would be normal to activate the sympathetic nervous system. However, when you are at work it is not healthy to place this additional stress on your body.  Your body does not need to increase its blood pressure, raise its heart rate, increase blood glucose levels to get through the workday. All these effects of the sympathetic nervous system will also make it difficult to fall asleep since our body is essential on high alert. These all lead to an array of health issues as we age. 

Breath your Way to Pain Relief

Normal inspiration should primarily be due to our diaphragm and external intercostals contacting. If we can do this fundamental function our stomachs would expand on inspiration and spare the accessory muscle of breathing and the sympathetic nervous system. With the help of your chiropractor – we can ingrain this fundamental breathing pattern to alleviate neck pain, stress, and overall well being. Doesn’t that sound nice? Contact us to get your appointment scheduled!