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Can poor posture affect the way you breathe?

Normal respiration (breathing) is a very intricate function. Poor posture has a direct link to poor diaphragm mobility, poor chest expansion, and reduced alveolar ventilation, in turn lowering your respiratory capacity.


Our diaphragm is our major muscle for respiration, which separates our lungs and abdomen. When we don’t use our diaphragm, we then have to use secondary muscles of respiration (sternocleidomastoid, scalenes, trapezius) that originate from the neck/shoulders to lift the rib cage.


DID YOU KNOW we breathe on average 25,000 breaths a day!

Now knowing this, how are those secondary muscles going to feel? Tired, exhausted? Make you more rounded? Ultimately forcing your head further forward.


What are the short and long-term impacts of poor posture?


Short-term, poor posture can decrease the amount of oxygen readily available to you and cause added tension to your musculoskeletal system.


Prolonged poor posture can cause uneven weight distribution throughout your skeletal system curvatures – causing wear and tear on the bones, discs, and nerves. If unaddressed or not treated, prolonged poor posture can cause chronic pain presentations, spinal dysfunction, joint degeneration of the spine and decreased nerve innervation.


No one wants to look like the hunchback of notre dame!

Can poor posture affect the way you breathe?

Poor posture, like rounded shoulders, is all too common in the front dominant society that we live in.

5 prolonged postures that may cause forward head posture

  • Sitting at a desk/in front of a computer

  • Looking down at mobile phone screens (also known as ‘text neck’)

  • Driving

  • Sitting on the couch/watching TV/playing video games

  • Use of handheld devices (tools, instruments)


How can poor posture affect normal breathing function?


Poor posture does not allow full mobility of the thoracic cavity, preventing the natural bucket handle effect of your ribs – in turn, preventing full lung capacity, which your body suffers greatly from not getting resourceful oxygenation.



Our main muscle for respiration is our diaphragm, which does not get proper nerve innervation or space to move when we are slouched over.


Top tips to reduce forward head posture and improve posture!

  • Recognise and become aware of activities that cause forward head posture – it can often be unnoticed in the early stages (until symptoms appear)

  • Sit up tall/lengthen the back of your neck (think of the top of the head being pulled upwards like a puppet to help decompress the neck)

  • Invest in ergonomic furniture – utilise a sit-stand desk/lumbar support in car

  • Utilise a posture pole! Read all about posture poles HERE.


Tips to improve breathing efficiency


  • Practice long deep breathing, initially from the ground to help feel the connection with the earth.

  • Breathe through your nose as much as possible

  • Get a sensory feel for breathing – one hand on the belly, the other on the chest (make sure the belly moves first on the inhale and last on the inhale)

  • Practice rhythmic box breathing – breathe IN for 3 seconds,

  • HOLD for 3 seconds, EXHALE for 3 seconds, HOLD for 3 seconds and repeat (smooth and steady inhales/exhales)

  • Improve the strength of your diaphragm through exercise

  • Keep the chest wall mobile through stretching, yoga and exercises


From what we’ve learned above, posture impacts more than just our physical appearance. Correct breathing is the cornerstone to our ecosystem (body) working efficiency.


If you’d like to get your posture assessed, contact us, your local trusted Chiropractor.


Want to know more?....Book a consultation with us and we can kick-start the summer healing process. Click HERE to book your initial consultation with one of our Chiropractors at Sydney Family Chiropractic.


#manualtherapy #sydneyfamilychiro #adjustment #spinalhealth #neckpaintreatment #neckpain #painrelief #summer


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Our Chiropractors can provide you with tailored and appropriate care, as well as lifestyle advice to help improve your spinal health and overall wellbeing.


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