The Hidden Culprits of Dysfunctional Breathing Patterns

Most people have no idea that they have dysfunctional breathing patterns. When I ask clients how their breathing is, they often look at me quizzically, “well, I’m alive!” But just because you are breathing doesn’t mean that you are breathing well!! Dysfunctional breathing shows up in many ways: back or neck pain, muscular skeletal pain, poor core activation, poor stability and movement patterns,low energy levels, mouth breathing, frequent sighing and yawning, morning fatigue on waking, weakened immune system, poor sleep, poor concentration or focus, high stress, constipation, or even a stuffy nose.

We all know the feeling of a deep, cleansing breath. It washes away stress, invigorates the body, and leaves us feeling centered. But for many of us, that kind of natural breathing feels like a distant memory. The truth is, we were all born with perfect breathing technique. So, what happened?

Life throws us a lot of curveballs, and these curveballs can wreak havoc on our natural breathing patterns. Here are some of the most common culprits:

The Body in Flux: Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Surgery

Pregnancy is a beautiful miracle, but it can also put a strain on your diaphragm, the key muscle for breathing. As your baby grows, it pushes up against your diaphragm, limiting its full expansion. This, combined with the weakened core muscles that often accompany pregnancy, can lead to shallow breathing patterns. Childbirth, especially via C-section or episiotomy, can further disrupt breathing by introducing scar tissue and tightness in the abdominal area. Similarly, any surgery, not just related to childbirth, can leave scar tissue that restricts diaphragm movement and affects breathing.

Hidden Obstacles: Injuries, Allergies, and Stress

Physical injuries, especially head injuries or those affecting the nose or chest, can make it difficult to breathe deeply and efficiently. Allergies and chronic congestion can also hinder proper breathing by creating blockages in the nasal passages. But it’s not just physical issues that can disrupt our breath. Chronic stress and anxiety can lead to shallow, rapid breathing, leaving us feeling constantly on edge.

Habits and the Environment: The Silent Saboteurs

Our daily habits and environment can also play a surprising role in our breathing patterns. Certain professions that require repetitive movements or awkward postures can restrict diaphragm movement. Activities like swimming, while excellent exercise, can lead to over-reliance on chest breathing rather than diaphragmatic breathing. Even something as simple as bad posture, where the shoulders are hunched and the chest is collapsed, can make it harder to take full, deep breaths and access the diaphragm.
Mouth breathing is a huge culprit of dysfunctional breathing, playing havoc with oxygen and carbon dioxide balance, weakening the immune system, causing fatigue and creating sleep related disorders such as snoring and sleep apnea.

The Domino Effect: How Dysfunctional Breathing Impacts Your Health

These seemingly disparate factors can all lead to a condition called dysfunctional breathing. When your breathing pattern is disrupted, your body tries to compensate, leading to a domino effect of health problems. Shallow breathing can contribute to fatigue, poor sleep, anxiety, and even digestive issues. Over time, it can weaken your core muscles and contribute to back pain and pelvic floor dysfunction.

Reclaim Your Breath, Reclaim Your Health

The good news is that you can reclaim your natural breathing pattern and experience the multitude of benefits it offers. Breathing retraining can help you reestablish nasal and diaphragmatic breathing, improve core strength, and develop healthy breathing habits. By addressing the underlying issues that may be disrupting your breath, you can unlock a world of improved physical and mental well-being.

Remember, you were born a breathing champion. Let’s work together to rediscover that natural breathing magic and unlock a healthier, happier you!


About Nat

Nat is a Soft Tissue and Movement Rehab Therapist, specialising in Functional Neurology, Pain & Movement Rehab, Nervous System Regulation and Women’s Health.
Nat uses a multi-disciplinary approach to provide a ‘whole-istic’ approach to helping you understand and move more easily in your body, emotionally and physically. She uses a combination of manual bodywork, neuromuscular repatterning, movement, nervous system regulation and energy work to help you move beyond pain and emotional blocks and back to living life with joy and zest.

Nat helps with:

  • Functional Movement repatterning
  • Functional Breathing
  • Relieving pain
  • Reintroducing Stability to the system physically and emotionally
  • Post-op rehab
  • Scar care
  • Nervous system regulation
  • Postnatal recovery
  • Diastasis Recti recovery
  • C section recovery
  • Hysterectomy Recovery
  • Pelvic Floor Function
  • Perimenopause and Menopause Lifestyle Coaching

Leave a comment