Breathing for better health!

A healthy adult takes about 12 to 15 breaths per minute. That’s 21,600 breaths per day. Out of these breaths, how many of these are you inspiring and expiring correctly? The answer? Very little. Most of us take breathing for granted. Nearly all of those breaths are automatic, respiration generally requires about as much thought as pumping blood or digesting food. Yet despite all that practice, most of us suck at it. It’s unfortunately a consequence of modern sedentary life; chronic stress, repetitive habits, and poor ergonomics cause your diaphragm to be misused. Instead of helping you breathe, it’s redirected to restrict posture and stability. The diaphragm (consists of two hemi-diaphragms) is a dome shaped muscle attaching at the base of the lumbar spine (L1-3), the ribcage as well as the sternum. It assists through contraction to aid trunk stabilisation as well as relaxation. Postural Restoration (PR) and yoga are similar in regard to the fact they both value alignment, balance, neurology, respiration and biomechanics.


Postural Restoration is a holistic and posture-based approach addressing positional influences on neuro-pathomechanic development patterns with regards to the skeleton and muscles on posture. The position and function of the pelvis, diaphragm and ribcage are key. This therapy restores faulty posture believed to be a cause of complaints, rather than directing the intervention to the site of pain or the complaint. Typically, the goal is to decrease unwanted hypertonicity via muscle inhibition to facilitate muscle balance, so certain muscles don’t have to be so active, such as hip flexors, paraspinals and/or tensor fascia latae. Muscle balance or repositioning will also enable certain muscles to work more effectively allowing them to also be in a better position to rest. These exercises are often done twice a day and are usually recommended prior to a recreational activity or sport. An exercise example of this is the 90/90 hemibridge with a balloon blow (Figure 1).

This specific exercise:

  • Activates muscles (abdominals, hamstrings, adductors, diaphragm and transversus thoracis) and inhibits others (hip flexors and paraspinals). Hamstring activation assists pelvis to move from the commonly anteriorly tilted position (hip flexion) back toward neutral (hip extension).
  • The forced exhalation through the balloon activates abdominals (spine flexion) and transverse thoracis (rib depression) and reciprocally inhibits paraspinals (spine extension).
  • When ribs are depressed with exhalation, and remain with inhalation, the ideal Zone Of Apposition (ZOA) of the diaphragm is maintained. The ZOA is the term for the area of the diaphragm that directly apposes the rib cage.
  • Research has shown that the ZOA is critically important for ideal respiration, exercise tolerance, endurance and function. When ribs are elevated, and lungs are hyperinflated, respiration is compromised and a person can become short of breath, fatigued and have compromised exercise tolerance.

(Figure 1)

 If you wish to know more about this type of therapy, for proper exercise prescription and rehabilitation management for optimal function, come see us at Absolute Balance, or you can contact us at

Luke Bell (B.Sc. Exercise and Sports Science, B.Sc. Exercise Science and Rehabilitation)

Exercise Consultant – Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) (ESSAM)

Ph: 08 9244 5580 M: 0432 667 115 Fax: 08 9244 5582



  • Figure 1:

Boyle, Kyndall, (PT, PhD, OCS).(2008). Postural restoration—a holistic approach to the management of postural patterns of asymmetry, Assistant Professor at Elon University, USA. Retrieved from:


  •, (2015), Thieme, Trevor. Change the way you breathe to relieve stress, boost energy and get stronger, Retrieved on 8/1/2018


  • Hruska, Ron, (MPA, PT). (2005). PRI – An Evidence Based Approach. Retrieved from:


  • Soiney, Emily (PT, DPT, PRC, CST, RYT). (2008). Considerations for Integrating Postural Restoration and Yoga: General Overview and Recommendations.