Do You Know how to Breathe? (Part I)


How incorrect breathing techniques influence posture, movement and pain:


Breathing is an essential function of any living organism. Many of us already know we utilize improper breathing techniques or have poor posture however what is “normal” for breathing and posture is hard to define. Dynamic neuromuscular stabilization is an approach based on developmental kinesiology that can help us define norms for breathing and posture from a developmental perspective.


A newborn has an immature central nervous system and therefore immature muscle function, postural patterns and breathing. If the infant is healthy, it will present with typical postural and movement patterns that are characteristic at certain stages of development (i.e.: rolling, crawling and eventual walking). As the infant develops, the diaphragm, which was primary used for breathing starts to contribute to posture and stabilization as well. This is very important, since proper diaphragm activation is a prerequisite for trunk stabilization and movement of the arms and legs.




Your diaphragm, abdominal, back and pelvic muscles (which make up your core) must be able to contract together and at the same time to allow for proper breathing and stabilization. Since the diaphragm plays such a key role in stabilization it’s no surprise that that individuals who don’t sufficiently contract the diaphragm during trunk stabilization may be at increased risk of low back pain.


When the diaphragm does not do its job to help stabilize, the spine will be subjected to chronic abnormal loading patterns. The accessory muscles of respiration (SCM, scalenes) will also work overtime to help compensate for the lack of stability provided by the diaphragm. Abnormal stabilization goes hand in hand with a dysfunctional breathing pattern. If you suffer from chronic postural strain (tight neck and upper back muscles, rounded shoulders, pain etc.) or low back pain you may have a ‘breathing disorder’.


Yoga is a great way to re-teach your nervous system how to breathe, improve posture and enhance body awareness. I am a trained yoga teacher and certified in dynamic neuromuscular stabilization techniques. I focus on correction of breathing, posture and movement patterns with all of my patients.




Written By Dr.  Amy Wiggins