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Breathing Pattern Disorders

Are you experiencing any of these common symptoms of breathing pattern disorders?

  • Ongoing neck and shoulder pain

  • Feeling dizzy or spaced out

  • Irritability or constantly on edge

  • Feeling anxious and tense all the time

  • Brain fog

  • Constantly feeling tired – even waking up tired

  • Chest tightness or pain

  • Tingling or pins and needles

  • Bloating and nausea

  • Achy muscles and joints

  • Fast or erratic heartbeats (palpitations)

  • Frequent sighing and yawning

  • Breathlessness


What is a Breathing Pattern Disorder?

A breathing pattern disorder is when your breathing rate, rhythm, and pace has changed over time, causing you to breathe beyond what your body actually needs. We tend to breathe in more than we breathe out, especially when we are stressed, anxious or upset. Poor breathing habits like mouth breathing, breathe holding and shallow breathing cause us to over breathe. Regular over-breathing changes the body’s chemistry which over time, influences many of the body’s normal functions and systems. Continuous poor breathing habits can then lead onto dysfunctional breathing patterns or even hyperventilation syndrome (HVS), a disorder that can be difficult to diagnose and is often missed by doctors.


Common Causes of Breathing Pattern Disorders

Breathing pattern disorders have multiple causes, and its beneficial to identify what your triggers are. An injury, concussion, a major illness, a traumatic life event, chronic pain or a motor vehicle accident can cause a stress reaction that affects your breathing pattern, resulting in fatigue, poor sleep, aches and pains, and dizziness. Even poor sitting posture all day at work can result in changes in your breathing, which becomes a bad habit until it produces symptoms you can no longer ignore. When your body remains in “fight or flight” mode or a constant state of stress for prolonged periods of time, your health and wellbeing are affected. 


Common triggers that alter your breathing pattern:

  • Anxiety and depression

  • Emotions like grief, loss and fear

  • Mouth breathing from sinus problems/ stuffy nose

  • Pain – in particular neck, back or abdominal pain

  • Poor posture/ergonomics at work

  • Prolonged computer use

  • Extended periods of high stress levels

  • Concussion

  • Traumatic life events – a shock

  • Chronic pain problems

  • Chronic lung conditions

  • Hormone changes (PMT - pregnancy - menopause)

  • Poor sleep patterns and fatigue

Remember that even when a trigger has disappeared, the body may have developed a habitual response that prolongs the problem.

Breathing, your Mind and You

 Our breathing pattern reflects how we are feeling. When we are anxious and distressed our breathing becomes erratic and fast. When our mood is low it becomes shallow and restrained. When we are happy and relaxed our breathing just flows effortlessly in a gentle regular rhythm. Because we can easily control our breathing with training and practice, we can use it to manage our stress and anxiety, process our emotions and move ourselves into a calmer more peaceful space.


Yolande offers physiotherapy assessment and treatment of Breathing Pattern Disorders. Firstly we identify your triggers, and then through practicing a combination of restorative breathing exercises and sensory mindfulness techniques until you have mastered them, we find you have reduced the feelings of stress and anxiety and gained a sense of control over your body, mind and emotions, creating calm, peace and balance in your life again.  

Yolande offers physiotherapy assessment and treatment of Breathing Pattern Disorders.

Girl Relaxing
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