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Ribs - What have they got to do with stress & anxiety?

Breathing motion - ribs related to stress & anxiety

Breathing from two types of areas and muscles

Our ribcage surrounding our lungs is a dynamic system, designed to adapt it's function to assist us when we need but also be as efficient as possible.

When we are resting, sleeping or are in a relaxed state, we primarily use our diaphragm muscle, which is a large parachute-shaped muscle around our waistline under our lower ribs, to bring air into our lungs.

This system is efficient and effective in order to achieve it's goal without much energy loss.

When we are in need of more oxygen in our lungs, such as needing to run away from something or fight something, the muscles attaching from our upper ribs (near our sternum) to our neck, pull our ribcage up to allow air to be sucked in to our lungs. This aids is in being able to take a deeper breath than just our diaphragm or lower ribs.

Our body functions as needed to give us more air if we need, or be efficient for the rest of the time. If we are using both systems continually then the muscles become fatigued and can lead to neck and shoulder tension, resulting in pain.

What can cause us to use our two systems excessively?

Common triggers which can make us be in a heightened state of alert can be stress or anxiety which can lead to pain, tension, hyperventilation and insomnia, among others.

If we learn to control our breathing and can breath effectively, then we are able to reduce this tension.

Effects of stress/anxiety

When we are stressed or anxious, our mind tricks our body into thinking it needs to be in a heightened state of alertness all of the time which can lead to excessive upper rib movements, muscle fatigue, neck pain and headaches. This affects how well we sleep and can affect muscle healing times when we injure ourselves or are fatigued.

What can I do to help it?

A simple exercise is to control your breathing to a slow state when relaxing or sleeping. This requires only your attention to your breath and slowing it down until it return to a slow steady pace. This helps improve the amount of oxygen your body is getting and calms your stress levels down.

If you are anxious, stressed, have muscle aches and pains or would like to find out more, call the clinic to make an appointment with Dr Simon Tasker 0425 876 929 or BOOK ONLINE HERE.

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