Menu Close

Notes from: Recognizing and Treating Breathing Disorders by Leon Chaitow

Written by Kento Kamiyama PT, DPT


Within the rehabilitation realm, I strongly believe breathing mechanics or breathing drills are under appreciated and under utilized.  I see everyday how an injury, trauma or any type of stress can lead to breathing dysfunction and vice versa.  If yoga instructors, pilates, kettle bell instructors and power lifters all incorporate breathe work into movement, we need to understand breathing mechanics to bridge the gap!

I personally experienced myself by learning different breathing mechanics and drills you can immediate create stability, a sense of calm or increase in focus.

Currently I am reading the book:  Recognizing and Treating Breathing Disorders A multidisciplinary Approach by Leon Chaitow.  I’ve had this book for a quite a while and finally got to it recently.   After reading about half way through, I wish I started earlier.  The information in here are packed with clinical pearls, references and scientific evidence.

If you have any interest in breathing and how it could not only effect cardiopulmonary function but also psychosocial, movement, or overall well being this book is highly recommended.

Today I just wanted to share some points that stood out to me.  This is by no means a summary of the book nor does it replace anything for reading the book.  These are just my thoughts and some information that stood out to me:

– Kolnes (2012) noted, when breathing is witheld and/or highly costal, respiratory muscles are constantly being overactivated…the head is pulled forward, and the shoulders are hunched up and pulled forward…[and] a common observation is increased sway in the lower back….

  • NOTE for me:  In the past, I would be a cervical retraction general going to end range, end range, end range.  However, once I realized how breathing can have postural functions,  I make sure to incorporate good breathing mechanics (i.e.- rib movement) while performing postural work

-The diaphragm doesn’t fully descend and tilt forward until 4-6 months of age where the harmony of the pelvis and thorax is positioned parallel with each other.  This is the time when stabilization of the thorax, spine and pelvis in the sagittal plane is completed as a basic prerequisite to locomotor function of the extremities

  • NOTE for me: My son recently turned six months.  Over the past couple months, he has gained new movement patterns rapidly.  He’s rolling, voicing, creeping, etc. All probably due to diaphragm developing and allowing the intrinsic core to stabilize better.  This was interesting to me

– Dynamic MRI demonstrated that patients with chronic low back pain and abnormal morphological findings in the lumbar spine, show greater flattering of the lumbar portion of the diaphragm when compared to healthy population (Kolar et al. 2012)

  • NOTE for me: This information re-inforces in order to improve good diaphragm function, many of us most likely need to first exhale efficiently to bring the diaphragm into a better dome shape.  A recent study also showed immediate change in hamstring flexibility once one achieved a better dome shape of the diaphragm here.

– Weakness of an abdominal brace resulting in limited defecation propulsion is one of the most frequent disturbances in patients with constipation

  • NOTE for me:  Poor abdominal brace = Poor Poop.  There I said it.  Improve intrinsic core stability to improve your poop.  Its not uncommon to see this.

– Nasal breathing leads to more efficient oxygen extraction and carbon dioxide excretion.  Nasal breathing also increases the timing of the expiratory phase of respiratory cycle.  Furthermore, smell/olfactory brain has large connection with the limbic system

  • NOTE for me:  Have been utilizing aromas or scents to not improve breathing but their limbic responses.  Furthermore, Chaitow reported many mouth breathers have a component of anxiety or common hyper ventilators.  Lois Laynee and Dr. Kathy Dooley has been saying this for a while

– When performing nasal breathing, breathing too quickly through the nose can cause the lateral sidewalls of the external nose (nasal valves) to collapse inwards.

  • NOTE for me:  This could be a reason why, its hard to breathe diaphragmatically when going for quick sniffs.  Could be one reason why some lifters rather use mouth breathing to get Intra-abdominal pressure to build quickly.

There are way more clinical pearls than the mentions points above.   I may have to do a Part 2 series on this one.  Breathe better and…

Have a Great Monday Everyone!







1 Comment

  1. Pingback:Recognizing and Treating Breathing Disorders by Leon Chaitow: 3 more notes | Kamiyama Physical Therapy

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: