Breathing and Shoulder Pain
Are you using your shoulders to breathe? If you are, then you could well be experiencing shoulder pain as your shoulders were not intended to do this job – your diaphragm was. Deep breathing can therefore help to reduce stress on the shoulder.
Shallow Breathing Places Stress on the Shoulder Causing Shoulder Pain
First let’s look at what happens when you take shallow breaths. This breathing, known as apical breathing, forgets the diaphragm and focuses on using the neck and shoulders for breathing. Instead of the diaphragm being used the way it should this uses the trapezius, scapula, scalenes and sternocleidomastoid muscles for respiration. This places a lot more stress on these muscles then they were originally intended to cope with and so may result in shoulder pain.
Deep Breathing to Reduce Shoulder Pain
In order to take the additional pressure off these shoulder muscles and give the diaphragm back the task it is meant for you need to learn to breathe deeply. Deep breathing provides many benefits in addition to taking excess pressure off the shoulder muscles – it is very relaxing, slows the metabolism, and calms the nervous system.
Training Yourself to Breathe Deeply
In order to relieve your shoulder pain it is important to train yourself to breathe from your diaphragm and to make this training a regular habit until you naturally breathe correctly.
Twice a day lie on your back with your hand on your stomach and the other on your chest. Breathe deeply while feeling the raising of your stomach until it causes your chest to move. Then breathe out, noticing how your stomach now lowers as it expels the air.
Another breathing exercise that may benefit you in terms of learning to use your diaphragm to breathe deeply and relieve shoulder pain is to place a small weight (such as a bag of rice or sugar) on your lower stomach and try to gently lift it with each breathe you take. After doing about ten repeats of this exercise, allow the weight to gently slip off your stomach.
Breathing incorrectly can place a lot of additional pressure on your shoulder muscles as they are used in this breathing technique instead of your diaphragm. By learning to breathe deeply and training yourself to do so you will take that excess stress of your shoulder muscles and put it back on your diaphragm where it belongs, so helping to relieve shoulder pain.
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