When you use the chest instead of with the stomach (diaphragm) to breathe, you can cause trigger points and tensions the upper chest and back. This can result in headaches, numbness and pains in chest, arm, shoulder and hand.
For instance the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by tensions and trigger points in some of the muscles which lift the chest (scalenes). The tensions can come from something as simple as a bad cold which makes you breathe differently.
Breathing with the chest is for many a habit that they don’t think about. For people who suffers from asthma, illnesses which makes them cough, emotional tension and hyperventilation are all prone to trigger points in the scalenes and in the sternocleidomastoid. Sports and activities which makes you breathe quickly can cause trigger points as well, due to the effort of breathing.
The muscles primarily affected by poor breathing techniques are the sternocleidomastoid, the scalenes and serratus anterior. Trigger points found in the sternocleidomastoid is one of the main reasons for headaches, as described in my article Dealing with headaches. From the scalenes comes pain and numbness in the shoulder, arm and hand, as well as upper back and back pains. Pain from the serratus anterior is felt in the side and at the lower edge of the shoulder blade.
When you breathe correctly, the stomach is moving in and out and the chest barely rises. The lower in your stomach you draw your breath, the better. It will take conscious effort for a couple of weeks before you will begin to breathe automatically with your stomach.
Please make the effort to teach yourself to breathe with your stomach. It can prevent a range of issues, and it’s good for your health, your stress and general well-being.