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Improper Breathing Seen Often With Back Problems

Improper breathing is often seen in patients who suffer with back problems

I see many people in my Caledonia Chiropractic office who are experiencing back problems.  Many of these patients have improper breathing patterns.

This means that they are commonly breathing mainly with their rib cage as opposed to using their diaphragm (breathing muscle).  When you mainly use your rib cage to breath it puts added stress on the mid back and reduces movement in the low back.  This is not good and leads to back problems over time.

geralt / Pixabay

How do I know if I am breathing improperly?

A Chiropractor can help you identify if you are breathing improperly.  Through a Chiropractic exam the Chiropractor will be watching how your body moves through various functional tests. One of those functional tests is observing how you are breathing.  It is very common to see someone breathe poorly if they recurrently are experiencing back problems. The back and breathing muscles are intricately connected through physiology, anatomy, and the neurology.

Rusty Old Car

How to improve my breathing?

To improve the breathing patterns in my chiropractic patients I have them follow these exercises:

  • relax when sitting or lying down
  • breathe in slowly and deeply
  • focus on raising your belly when you breathe in
  • focus on lowering your belly when you breathe out
  • you can touch various points on your belly when practicing your breathing and try to move that part of your belly with your breath
  • once you can move your belly confidently with your breath, try to expand the breath into your low back (breathe into the chair if you are sitting down or bed if you are lying on your back)

How can Chiropractic help breathing?

Multiple ways!

Regular Chiropractic care helps people breathe better!

  • improving spinal mechanics by removing vertebral subluxations in the spine allows the body to function better by not compensating with their breathing
  • reducing nerve interference allows the diaphragm (breathing muscle) to function as it was naturally supposed to
  • by reducing stress that is built into the spine and nerve system the body is capable of breathing calmly and not anxiously
  • by helping a chiropractic patient identify that they are breathing improperly
  • by helping a chiropractic patient learn ways to breathe better

Breathing properly may require effort for you, but it is worth it.  Breathing is natural and you have to breathe all day! You better be doing it well! Chiropractic can Help!


Dr. Callum Peever

The Immediate Effects of Spinal Manipulation on Breathing 

Here are some of my favourite excerpts from a 2016 research study on the impact that a chiropractic adjustment can have on a person’s ability to breathe better.  Enjoy! – Dr. Callum Peever

The purpose of the following 2016 research study was to investigate the effects of thoracic spinal manipulation therapy on breathing function including forced vital capacity and forced expiratory volume in one second in young healthy individuals.

The Immediate Effects of Spinal Manipulation on respiratory Functions

“Spinal manipulation therapy applied to the thoracic region improved respiratory function test results of the participants in this breathing study.”


“Impaired respiratory function shows a high correlation with morbidity and mortality, and is the main characteristic of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, along with dyspnea, cough, and increased sputum. Spinal manipulation has also been used to increase rib cage mobility to improve respiratory function.”


“These results are in agreement with those of previous studies. Henley et al proposed that manipulation therapy promotes autonomic activity, causing associated vasodilation, smooth muscle relaxation, and increased blood flow, leading to improved range of motion, decreased pain perception, and/or changes in the tissue.”