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Breathing retraining can help with neck and back pain
Did you know that if you have a dysfunction of your breathing you are more likely to have
back or neck pain? Dysfunctional breathing is an imbalance between the amount you are
breathing and what your body needs. A breathing pattern can become rigid, ineffective and
unsupportive of your needs. This can be due to muscular weakness, poor muscle
recruitment or reduced airway space.

Dysfunctional breathing symptoms include:
• frequent yawning or sighing
• mouth breathing
• sleep disordered breathing (including sleep apnoea)
• reflux or heart burn
• feeling anxious and tight
• gut issues
• tiredness and irritability
• shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat and dizziness.

At North Canberra Osteopathy, we offer breathing assessment and rehabilitation. This
includes a thorough examination of nose function, diaphragm function and all of the
structures involved in respiration.
Treatment includes a range of approaches:
• strengthening the breathing muscles to improve posture and spinal stability
• breathing therapy including diaphragm retraining and nasal rehabilitation
• mindfulness and body awareness education.
All the above have been shown to improve neck and back pain, especially chronic lower
back pain.

In patients with both back pain and dysfunctional breathing symptoms may include:
• pain
• limitation of movement
• muscular weakness
• reduced body awareness
• reduced core stability
• increased muscle tension
• reduced responses to manual therapy

Do any of these symptoms sound familiar? Do you think you could have dysfunctional
breathing? Book an appointment with one of our respiratory osteopaths, Dr Imogen Collyer
(Osteopath) or Dr Betsy Larsen (Osteopath) through our website today.

1. K. (2011). Breathing evaluation and retraining as an adjunct to manual therapy.
Manual therapy, 16(1), 51–52. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.math.2010.08.0062. Janssens, L., McConnell, A. K., Pijnenburg, M., Claeys, K., Goossens, N., Lysens, R.,
Troosters, T., & Brumagne, S. (2015). Inspiratory muscle training affects
proprioceptive use and low back pain. Medicine and science in sports and exercise,
47(1), 12–19. https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0000000000000385
3. Janssens, L., Brumagne, S., McConnell, A. K., Hermans, G., Troosters, T., & Gayan-
Ramirez, G. (2013). Greater diaphragm fatigability in individuals with recurrent low
back pain. Respiratory physiology & neurobiology, 188(2), 119–123.
4. Mehling, W. E., Hamel, K. A., Acree, M., Byl, N., & Hecht, F. M. (2005). Randomized,
controlled trial of breath therapy for patients with chronic low-back pain. Alternative
therapies in health and medicine, 11(4), 44–52.
5. Beeckmans, N., Vermeersch, A., Lysens, R., Van Wambeke, P., Goossens, N., Thys, T.,
Brumagne, S., & Janssens, L. (2016). The presence of respiratory disorders in
individuals with low back pain: A systematic review. Manual therapy, 26, 77–86.
6. Dimitriadis, Z., Kapreli, E., Strimpakos, N., & Oldham, J. (2013). Respiratory weakness
in patients with chronic neck pain. Manual therapy, 18(3), 248–253.
7. McLaughlin, L., Goldsmith, C. H., & Coleman, K. (2011). Breathing evaluation and
retraining as an adjunct to manual therapy. Manual therapy, 16(1), 51–52.