Fixing our core: Working on the breathing zone

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The human body consists of interdependent zones that should function properly, without pain and weakness. When tension and fatigue build up, the body develops imbalances caused by using one side of the body more than the other, resulting in predictable unhealthy posture patterns, which over time the body accepts as "normal."

For example, the left rib is usually slightly higher, which in a right-handed world can seem like an advantage, as it makes it easier to do right-handed tasks. But with repeated movement, the body can easily start shifting into misalignment, and over time the fascia and muscle memory get stuck.

This results in an inability to switch off, causing exhaustion and, finally, pain. The solution: Re-train the body back into balance; teach proper breathing techniques; and use exercises to practice, practice, practice until the patient preserves a balanced posture.

The diaphragm is the most important zone of our bodies. It controls our air in, toxins out, our strength, and ability to rest 100 percent. When the diaphragm is in a good position within the ribs (Zone of Apposition or ZOA), both the right and left sides are optimized.

Something called "rib flare" occurs when the diaphragm is stuck in the "on" position (inhale), making it almost impossible to exhale or not use chest breathing. You can recognize rib flare by watching someone exercise or take in a deep breath and noticing if the bottom ribs are sticking out.

Every part of the body is connected and needs to be centered and balanced in the areas above or below in order to achieve harmony. Any dysfunctional area that is ignored will cause problems, so it's important to recognize the symptoms and address them with corrective core and stability training.

Identification and treatment can interrupt or reverse many debilitating conditions like scoliosis, rounded backs, forward shoulders and head, a favored leg (usually the right one) and breathing abnormalities.

We can improve the function of our breathing zone with specific exercises. There is a lot of information on the internet to help you get started. However, to ensure success, you should first have a proper functional exam to determine your specific issues. After all, if we don't test for it, how will we know what the problems are and how to fix them?

Dr. Eric L. Bunge, DC FMS, is owner of Bunge Chiropractic Health Clinic in Bluffton. bungeclinic.com

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