04/10/2021 at 8:00 AM CEST
We live with him bad of two. Its origin is in poor posture, in an effort to gain weight, in lack of exercise, in pathologies of the spine or in pathologies such as arthritis or osteoporosis.
But these discomforts, very painful or even disabling, can have another origin: the way we breathe.
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Dr José Francisco Lizón, spine traumatologist and member of SECOT (Spanish Society of Orthopedic Surgery and Traumatology) explains that “there are back problems that make you breathe badly, so you don’t stretch your muscles well. abdomen because it hurts. But it also happens in the other direction, if we breathe badly we affect the lumbar or back muscles ”.
The main origin of these back pain caused by breathing is the diaphragm. This muscle which separates the thorax from the abdomen is involved not only in breathing but also in stabilizing the spine.
And it is connected at the front with the last ribs of the thorax and at the back with the spine. More precisely, with the L1, L2 and L3 vertebrae.
When we breathe, the diaphragm descends to make room for the expansion of the lungs, and rises again when we release the air. And it is at this stage that the problems appear.
Ideally, when we breathe we do it completely, that is to say by filling with air from the abdominal region “and that the breathing does not stop there, but is completed by the thoracic breathing”, explains the doctor. But we don’t always do it.
“No one is aware of the way you breathe, it is an automatic question, and no one is aware of the type of breath you are having.”
Abdominal breathing = lower back pain
“When we breathe, we increase the abdomen, the diaphragm pushes the viscera by increasing the abdominal pressure, which causes a shift in the center of gravity and consequently an increase in lordosis, overloading of the discs and joints of the vertebrae. ”, Explains Dr Lizón.
For this reason, “people who breathe through the abdomen and fail to enlarge the thorax well end up with lower back pain”.
This way of filling our body with air is very common in overweight or obese people, with abdominal distension.
These are usually patients who have little muscle tone in the abdominal area and therefore tend to swell the intestines when they breathe.
Chest breathing = pain in the back
In front of these patients are those whose breathing is limited to chest.
It is a “very shallow chest breathing, and it is the opposite which occurs, it is of course well dilate the lungs, pull back muscles, causing pain in this area of the back, ”explains the traumatologist.
What causes chest breathing? Well, it’s very common in stressful situations, where we have very short breaths, which don’t reach the abdominal part.
Am I breathing properly?
As Dr Lizón explains, this type of back pain “is very underdiagnosed. People don’t know how they breathe And unless you find someone who has the topic of breathing very much on their minds, the problem will go completely unnoticed. Unless a doctor checks your breathing habits.
And the problem is, back pain won’t go away until you start breathing properly and working your muscles as well. “If you don’t, you are not attacking the cause of the pain.”
So what’s the best way to find out how we breathe and therefore how to do it right?
“To find out, you have to put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. We breathe 6 times, the first three are dedicated to the swelling of the abdominal area, and we will see how this hand rises, ”explains the traumatologist.
“The next 3 times, we will focus on filling the upper part of the rib cage“, And the hand that is there will indicate that indeed, the thoracic area is also filling.
In short, being aware of the way we work can save us a lot of back pain.