Breathe Better: How Eric Christensen is Changing How We Breathe

16 per minute, 960 per hour, 23,040 per day....That's how much we breathe.  You could say breathing is life.  Its the first thing we do in life, and the last thing we do.  Then why then do we ignore it?  Why do we never train it?...Poor breathing patterns can lead to numerous problems such as chronic pain, and increased stress.   

Eric Christenson is here to help change all that.  Eric is a doctor of physical therapy (DPT) and the owner of Chandler Physical Therapy in Chandler, AZ.  Eric estimates that 85%-90% of his patients have breathing issues that effect their function.  If you've ever had persistent neck pain, chances are poor breathing patterns is one of the causes.  Eric's passion to change the way we breath runs deep.  So much so, that he wrote a book.  His book, "Breathe Better", addresses our society;s pervasive issues with breathing.  "Breathe Better" is scheduled for release on July 30th.

In today's post, I interview Eric and we take a deeper look at his new book, and we also give you some exercises to help improve your breathing.  Enjoy!


Background

 

Javi: Eric! Can you tell us a little more about you background?

Eric:  Sure!  I graduated from PT school from Regis University in Denver PT in 2009.  I Moved to AZ in 2009,  and primarily worked in outpatient orthopedics.  , my wife and I purchased the business in 2012.

Javi:  What made you want to write the book?

  Eric's brand new book.   Get it here.

  Eric's brand new book.  Get it here.

Eric: I treat people who have breathing problems everyday.  It affects their lives.  I wrote this book to be geared more towards a patient perspective.  I wanted to have a resource for other PTs  to be able to give to their patients.

 

Why Do We Need to Breath Better?

 

Javi: How do bad breathing patterns affect our lives?

Eric: Most people adapt as chest breathers.  Which is more designed to get that last push of oxygen out of your lungs.  When we do this all day, we end up ignoring the diaphram. Which decreases our core strength and stability.

Javi:  How does breathing affect exercise?

Eric: Chest breathing stimulates the nervous system to activate a fight or flight response.   This increases stress, which is definitely not good for performance.  It's inefficient and makes you fatigue easier.  It can also lead to chronic neck tension.


Take Home Techniques

 

One of the great things about "Breathe Better" is it doesn't just identify the problem, is gives you the knowledge and the tools to fix it.  Eric gets into the anatomy of muscles that affect breathing, the actual mechanics of inspiration (inhale) and expiration (exhale) , and ultimately techniques on how to fix poor breathing patterns.  He also manages to do this in a very user friendly way.

Below are a few exercises that help address breathing patterns. There are more strategies in the book, and they go into much greater detail.  However, these exercises are a great start.

 

Side note: Through this link, you have the option of receiving first 2 chapters of "Breathe Better" for FREE!  If you do, you will also have access to a completely free E-Book copy! 

 

Diaphragmatic Breathing

This is learning the basics.  This exercise will lay the foundation for you to start breathing correctly.  

How to Do it

  • In a reclined postion, place one hand over your diaphragm and the other over your chest.  
  • The hand on the the chest SHOULD NOT rise up 
  • Try and push your bottom ribs out as you breath 
  • Try 10 slow controlled breaths, 2 times per day

 

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Thoracic Spine Rolls 

Many people with poor breathing patterns have tight T-spines as well.  This exercise combines breathing and T-spine mobility.

How to do it

  • Lie on your side with your top hip above 90 degrees, supported by a pillow 
  • Your bottom hand hold the top knee, and your top hand rests on your belly button
  • Take a deep breath in
  • As you breath, turn your shoulders away from the floor 
  • Perform 3 sets of 10

 

Balloon Breathing

 

How to Do it

  • Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent 
  • Place pillow or a ball between your knees and squeeze
  • Take a deep breath in through the nose, allowing the bely to rise, and then blow into the balloon
  • Do not let the balloon deflate
  • Breath 3 times into the balloon, then let the air out 
  • Perform 5-10 reps 

 

 

Squat w/ Diaphragmatic  Breathing 

Once you've established these baseline breathing exercises, it's important to apply these fundamentals in a functional way. A squat is one of the most functional movements we can do.  

  • Stand with your feet as if you were starting in a squat.
  • As you you start your descent in the squat, inhale thought your diaphragm and try and push your rib out 
  • Exhale slowly as you come up 
  • Perform 2 sets of 10

I think its safe to say we take breathing for granted.  I know I have.  With our stressed filled lives, breathing can be the last thing on our mind.  But after reading this, I hope you have a greater appreciation of  how crucial breathing is and how it impacts our lives.

Big thanks to Eric for writing his book and for helping change the way we breathe.  Find Eric on his clinic website, where you can have a FREE phone consultation with a PT. Also on social media on Instagram, and Facebook.  See you guys next week!!