Are you struggling with wearing your mask?

There are many Facebook memes and videos showing that your oxygen levels don’t drop when wearing a mask, however that doesn’t stop the feeling of not being able to catch your breath or make you feel like you’re not getting enough oxygen.

I have noticed that whilst wearing our masks we are breathing more through our mouths rather than our noses. This may feel more comfortable but there are consequences to changes in our breathing patterns.

1.       When we breathe through our mouth, we are more likely to chest breathe (using the upper ribs) instead of using our diaphragm (main breathing muscle). This can increase the tension through the muscles in our neck and shoulders causing tightness and pain that you can’t quite explain why it’s there.

2.       Mouth breathing can dry out our mouth which removes one of the first lines of defence against oral bacteria, causing bad breath and gum disease.

3.       For those still growing, mouth breathing can change the growth pattern of the face.

4.       Mouth breathing bypasses the essential filtering mechanism of the nose & sinuses that helps to purify and warm the air before it enters the lungs, which may allow an increase in bacteria/viruses to reach our lungs.

5.       Mouth breathing is more of a survival mechanism rather than a day-to-day process and is often used when we are more stressed, again leading to a change in the muscles we use for breathing.

6.       Reduced movement of our diaphragms can impact a number of systems in our bodies as it plays an important role in more than just breathing. The diaphragm helps the flow of blood back to our heart, it also helps with lymphatic drainage (getting rid of toxins) as well as the movement gently massages the liver and bowel to improve drainage and function.

So…. What can you do to reduce your periods of mouth breathing when wearing your mask?

To help you revert to nasal breathing it may help to:

1.       Press your tongue up to the roof of your mouth and close your lips.

2.       Take a deep breath through your nose and allow you belly to blow up like a balloon.

3.       Slow and deepen your breath by inhaling through your nose for 4-5 seconds and exhaling through your nose for 6-7 seconds.

It is important that you spend some time wearing your mask (maybe at home to start) to get used to how it makes you feel and then you can practice your nose breathing. Nasal breathing may also l help you to stay calm when out and about and needing to wear your mask whilst doing tasks.

If you are struggling with your breathing patterns and would like more advice and guidance, then give us a call and book in for an assessment. As Osteopaths we look at the structure of the whole body and can help improve your breathing mechanics.