Everett Chiropractic Center Blog

July 11, 2014

Breathing and Bracing

Core Work

Core Work

(The context here is back pain… I haven’t considered whether every word here applies to every type of pain.)

I’ve mentioned before that we now know exercising while you are in pain is not a good idea. The thing is, “exercise” and “in pain” are experiences that follow a broad spectrum. It’s subjective.

New patients are usually clear about being in pain. But while real exercises begin once a person is out of pain, breathing and bracing can begin right away.

Being in pain alters breathing. In fact astute personal trainers all look for what is called “stress” breathing when their clients are performing exercises. When a person is in pain, they are under stress. They often display stress breathing. Sometimes that altered breathing becomes a habit: like the pain, and like all the other things that are altered by pain and become habits.

I mentioned it yesterday to a patient who was often dizzy after getting up off the table. In pain, he would brace himself as I had recommended, but then he would hold his breath while getting up. Then, when he was on his feet and relaxed, he would get dizzy and have to wait a while to walk away.

So we notice and we teach. Then we notice again, and teach some more – learning along the way. And on it goes.

By the time many people are adults normal abdominal breathing is not their habit, so we begin by teaching basic abdominal breathing.

When a patient learns to brace themselves to support their back while in the relief, rehab, or recovery stages of care, they also have to learn to breath at the same time.

Bracing involves tightening the muscles of the gut, the butt, and the ones that stop defecation and urination (the Kegel crowd). By doing that all the muscles of the “core” are activated, the spine is stabilized, and injury is less likely to occur with movement. (To experience bracing put one hand on your back and the other on your stomach. Now cough. That’s a sudden brace.)

Combined with proper breathing, bracing can shorten the relief stage of care. It’s also a fundamental part of proper bending and lifting technique so it’s worth knowing. A great deal of re-injury is prevented because patients in the early stages of care – who still have to go to work and perform as an industrial athlete – know how to brace properly.

Learning to breath and brace are an integral part of tai chi practice and these techniques are also taught in my courses on Preventing Back Pain Injury if you want to know more.

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1 Comment »

  1. […] you do have to do something, BRACE. We teach that first (along with breathing) because just bracing can ease pain. It can also prevent […]

    Pingback by Your Back Hurts But You Have To Keep Going | Everett Chiropractic Center Blog — March 16, 2014 @ 2:55 pm


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