Core, Posture and Breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing is so fundamental in the development of core function. Breathing is a part of core stability. So we must be certain that breathing patterns are healthy before progressing into more advanced core exercises.

Working on breathing will have significant benefits for the stabilisation of the trunk. Many of us spend our lives with our shoulders around our ears, shallow breathing into our chest and then wonder why we suffer with back pain and injury.

Core stability, according to Kibler et al “is the ability to control the position and motion of the trunk over the pelvis to allow optimum production, transfer and control of force and motion to the terminal segment in integrated athletic activities.

Essentially, you need to have a stable core to enable joint mobility elsewhere in the body.

The spine should be held in a neutral, or natural position. Breathing well maintained along with moving the arms and legs in ways that mimic natural movement patterns.

There are a variety of systems that are involved with maintaining a neutral spine. Preserving the spine will protect you from further injuries. Not only is the diaphragm involved in this, but muscular strength is required to maintain this position, as well as sensory input from the central nervous system.

Developing efficient breathing patterns should be prioritised in order to develop movement.

Breathing is regulated and coordinated by the autonomic nervous system; however proper breathing is not automatic. Physical, chemical and emotional factors can alter the rate and volume of the breath, and therefore cause breathing pattern problems. The body compensates for these factors by either involving upper chest muscles or by quickening the rate of the breath. Which is normal if an athlete is running for example, however if the athlete cannot recover to a slower method of breathing during rest, then problems may arise.

Breathing patterns, much like other motor patterns will become a habit – this could be healthy or not.

Postural adaptation has been linked to breathing dysfunction.

The breath influences muscular function and posture. This is due to the use of breathing muscles during respiration affecting how these muscles are used for non breathing movement and postural support. Everyday posture also affects the use of breathing muscles.

When thinking about chest dominant breathers, the sternocleidomastoid muscles, upper traps, and pectoral muscles all shorten. Creating a forward head and kyphotic posture. Often seen in those who also sit at desks for prolonged periods of time. What occurs over time is the fact that the core becomes destabilised. What is not clear is whether the postural problem came first, or the breathing pattern problem.

So how do we address muscular imbalance and dysfunctional breathing?

Certain muscles have a tendency to become short and tight, whilst others long and weak – often as a result of postural or movement habits.

For correct stabilisation and respiration to happen, muscular imbalances must be addressed by doing the following;

  • Creating a stretching/strengthening plan to bring the pelvis and rib cage into neutral alignment.

  • Mobility work should be a routine within training sessions but also regularly through the day

Over the next few days pay attention to your breathing and see how it affects your posture.

This piece was taken out of my up-coming online programme which is due to launch in January 2022. If you found this content interesting and you are suffering from back pain this programme could be for you.

Please do not hesitate to contact me


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