For more information, you can read Dr. Perretto’s new book, Unlocking the Secrets of the Hypermobility Puzzle
Living with a chronic illness, we naturally are prone to more stress and pain than the average person. These symptoms can manifest in a variety of ways, one of which being through our breathing.
When under stress or in pain, the body attempts to cope by adopting a more rapid and shallow breathing pattern, often referred to as hyperventilation. As your body gets accustomed to breathing in this manner, it will happen more frequently. Those of us with hypermobility naturally have a more difficult time breathing as well, due to poor posture and lack of core strength. Ultimately, our tendency to hyperventilate can lead to detrimental long-term effects such as headaches, increased pain, and fatigue.
To combat our body’s instinct to breathe rapidly, we must actively train yourself to achieve proper breathing. Posture plays a crucial role.
When we are under stress or in pain, it is not uncommon to slouch or lay down. Unfortunately, slouching frequently can decrease circulation and compress the ribcage – this makes it difficult for your diaphragm to contract, which affects the rate at which you breathe.
The next time you sit down, be conscious of how your body rests and adjust as needed. Focus on opening your chest, engaging your core muscles slightly, and breathe through your nose. You can lay down or sit up tall in a chair (use it to support your back!) This simple exercise can help greatly over time.
One thing to be wary of is excessively sucking in your stomach when attempting to hold good posture. Although it may be effective, it can cause your body to use your upper chest and neck muscles rather than your diaphragm. This is another abnormal breathing pattern that over time may cause abdominal and pelvic tightness.
Ultimately, breathing is a complex process – it requires effort and understanding to change your pattern. Body consciousness and breathing exercises are a great place to start. You can also try activities such as yoga and meditation to help improve both your breathing pattern and posture.
Be sure to consult with your primary care physician or other medical professionals in regard to your medical concerns. This text cannot and should not replace advice from the patient's healthcare professionals. Any person who experiences symptoms or feels that something may be wrong should seek individual professional help for evaluation and/or treatment. This post is for informative purposes only.