Good lung capacity is an important but often underappreciated aspect of health. While it is understood that you need your lungs to breath, many don’t realize the importance of having a good lung capacity. Many of us sit while working and don’t take many deep breaths. This kind of shallow breathing does not allow air to fully circulate within the lungs and limits airflow to a smaller portion of the lungs. This limits efficiency of gas transfer and can place strain on the body overall.
Poor posture can limit lung capacity by compressing and restricting movement of the rib cage. A classic example is slouching and hunching forward while using the computer. It is much more difficulty to fully expand the rib cage and lungs when hunched forward as increased weight and resistance has to be overcome.
Poor posture can change the muscles that are actively moving the lungs while breathing. Normally, the diaphragm muscle is the primary muscle of breathing. When the head and shoulders come forward, this compresses the rib cage and can prevent the lungs from easily filling. This positioning promotes contribution to breathing movement from muscles of the neck and upper chest including the scalenes and sternocleidomastoid. The accessory muscles normally contribute to breathing with strenuous activities such as running or exercise, where the diaphragm alone may not be able to keep up. These muscles do not normally contribute to breathing while at rest, and fatigue and tighten with the prolonged load. As these accessory breathing muscles tighten, they can restrict movement in the neck and shoulders, as well as lead to tightness, stiffness, pain, and tingling.
This is especially important after an auto accident as posture can suffer while you are in pain. Pain and discomfort can affect many activities including standing, walking, sitting, and squatting, and result in postural compensation to avoid pain and discomfort.
Brugger’s stretch is a good exercise for improving posture, and provides particular benefit to the chest and rib cage. Chronic poor breathing habits can result in difficulty reactivating the diaphragm muscle. A Chiropractor will be able to provide instruction and exercises that help reactivate the diaphragm and reduce use of accessory breathing muscles.
Chiropractic is well positioned to treat issues of posture which result can lead to improved lung capacity. Our Chiropractor will be able to instruct you in exercises that can help improve and maintain good posture and lung capacity. Contact either our Aloha, or SE Portland chiropractic clinic if your posture is suffering, whether from strain of daily activities or an injury.