10/04/2021 at 08:00 CEST
We live with him Back pain. Its origin is in a bad posture, in an effort to gain weight, in the lack of exercise, in pathologies of the spine or in pathologies such as arthritis or osteoporosis.
But these discomforts, very painful and even disabling, can have another origin: the way we breathe.
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Dr. José Francisco Lizón, a spinal traumatologist and member of the SECOT (Spanish Society of Orthopedic Surgery and Traumatology) explains that “there are back problems that make you breathe badly, so you don’t distend your abdomen well because it hurts. But it also happens the other way around, if you don’t breathe well you are affecting the lumbar or dorsal muscles ».
The main origin of these back pain caused by breathing is the diaphragm. This muscle that separates the thorax from the abdomen is not only involved in breathing but also in stabilizing the spine.
And it is connected in front with the last ribs of the thorax, and on the back with the spine. Specifically, with the L1, L2 and L3 vertebrae.
When we breathe, the diaphragm goes down to make room for the expansion of the lungs, and rises again when we release the air. And it is at this point where the problems appear.
Ideally, when we breathe we do it completely, that is, filling with air from the abdominal area “and that breathing does not stop there, but is completed with thoracic breathing”, explains the doctor. But we don’t always do it.
“No one is aware of how you breathe, it is an automatic matter, and no one is aware of the type of breathing you have.”
Abdominal breathing = lower back pain
“When we breathe we increase the abdomen, the diaphragm pushes the viscera increasing abdominal pressure, which causes the center of gravity to shift and as a consequence lordosis increases, the overload on the discs and the joints of the vertebrae” explains the doctor Lizón.
For this reason, “people who do abdominal breathing and fail to expand the thorax well end up having lower back pain.”
This way of filling our body with air is very common among overweight or obese people, with an abdominal distention.
These are usually patients who have little muscle tone in the abdominal area and therefore tend to swell the gut when they breathe.
Chest breathing = back pain
Facing these patients are those whose breathing is limited to chest.
It is a «very shallow, thoracic breathing, and the opposite happens, that of course expand the lungs well, pull the dorsal muscles, causing pain in this area of the back ”, details the traumatologist.
What causes chest breathing? Well, it is very common in stressful situations, which make us have very short breaths, which do not reach the abdominal part.
Am I breathing correctly?
As Dr. Lizón explains, this type of back pain “is very underdiagnosed. People are not aware of how they breathe And unless you find someone who has the subject of breathing very much in mind, the problem will go completely unnoticed. Unless a doctor checks your breathing habits.
And the problem is that back pain will not go away until you begin to breathe correctly and also work your muscles. “If it is not done, you do not attack the cause of the pain.”
So what is the best way to know how we are breathing and thus work out how to do it right?
«To find out, we must put one hand on the chest and the other on the belly. We breathe in 6 times, the first three are dedicated to swelling the abdomen area, and we will see how that hand rises », details the traumatologist.
«We will dedicate the next 3 times to filling the upper part of the rib cage«, And the hand located there will indicate to us that indeed, the thoracic area is also filling up.
In short, becoming aware of the way we work can save us a lot of back pain.