Pectus Excavatum Breathing
Breathing exercises for pectus excavatum won’t make your deformity mysteriously disappear as some people claim. They aren’t as effective as the vacuum bell therapy, the special pectus excavatum exercises, or the braces.
However, they will help you in the flattening of the chest, and in improving your restricted breathing patterns. In the text below, I will recommend you a few exercises that helped me tremendously while I was dealing with pectus excavatum shortness of breath.
Pectus Excavatum Hindered My Breathing
3D Digital Model of a sunken chest done with a three-dimensional (3D) optical scanner
Pectus excavatum can restrict the ability to breathe deeply and softly. I experienced this personally, and I felt tension in my chest and throughout my back.
It made me feel neurotic. My energy was displaced from my pelvic floor, which is the centre of our energetic existence. When the muscular system becomes tense around your funnel chest and your stomach, you will start losing your grounding.
You will start to speak before you think, have a shaky and soft voice, and will look unconfident. That’s why most people who have pectus excavatum have trouble attracting the members of the opposite sex.
Shallow Breathing Is Harmful
It reduces the oxygenation to your body and brain. That’s a big enough reason why you must practice breathing exercises. The exercises I will show you below will make your respiratory muscles strong.
The diaphragm is the most important muscle when it comes to breathing. It brings about 80% of the muscular breathing power. It is formed like an umbrella and is located just underneath your lungs.
When this muscle contracts, it straightens, so it expands the lungs and creates room for a bigger breath. A strong diaphragm will let go of air that is trapped in the lungs and increases the levels of oxygenation.
Pectus excavatum caused me to breathe shallowly. That made me fatigued both mentally and physically.
What is Deep Breathing
When I say deep breathing, that means you have to reduce the erratic holding patterns (muscular rigidity) in your jaw, neck, shoulders, chest, abdomen and pelvic floor.
All these are called accessory muscles of respiration. When you do proper deep breathing, that means your entire body is relaxed. All neurotic holding patterns linked with these muscles cause breathing problems.
In our case, you must focus on getting rid of the tightness in the chest. The pectus excavatum deformity is causing rigidity in this area. When these muscles are relaxed, you can bring the respiratory wave down on your pelvic floor.
This will make you more “grounded”. You’ll be more in control of your actions, thoughts, and feelings. This will help you tremendously in dealing with the deformity, on a psychological level.
Breathing Will Help You Deal With Anxiety
Some people who have the pectus excavatum deformity suffer from depression and social anxiety. They have trouble talking with the members of the opposite sex because they’re nervous.
They are shy and out of control while socializing. Deep breathing will help you tremendously in dealing with this. You can achieve deep breathing by stretching the accessory muscles of respiration I previously mentioned.
Controlled Deep Breathing Is a Must
Before you start doing the breathing exercises, you must be aware of how you breathe. You must focus on deep, diaphragmic breathing while you’re doing all exercises and stretches. Pay attention to the inhalation and exhalation.
Deep breathing will make you feel more energetic. You’ll become more attractive to the members of the opposite sex.
Top 6 Breathing Exercises
Sitting Breathing Exercise
As soon as you wake up, sit on a chair with your back straight, and your arms by your side. Squeeze your shoulder blades together. Slowly, inhale deeply, and keep the air inside your lungs for about ten seconds.
Focus on elevating the anterior chest wall cavity. Then, slowly exhale, and repeat. Try to do ten repetitions of this in the morning, and 10 in the evening.
This breathing exercise will also give you a lot of energy to start the day. It is normal to feel dizzy because your body isn’t used to holding this amount of oxygen.
Sufferers with pectus posture feel dizziness more often than others. That’s because their frontal body musculature is tight, which hinders the breathing mechanism of the body. If you feel like fainting, stop immediately.
The best stretching/breathing exercise to open your respiratory pathways is the bow. I learned this exercise from Elliott Hulse. I became a massive fan of him after I started doing this excellent breathing exercise.
Stand with your feet set at shoulder-width apart. Press with your fists high on your lower back. Then, lean back with your body and open your mouth and eyes as wide as you can.
Start breathing deeply, and try to raise your stomach with your breath. You can even put your hands above your head if you want to feel a more significant stretch in your extra respiratory muscles.
You’ll start to shake and vibrate. You’ll feel tightness in your chest because of your deformity. Vibration helps in breaking the neurotic holding patterns in your muscles.
At first, this breathing exercise will feel very weird and challenging. Start slowly and try to progress gradually. Aim to perform ten breathes for three sets, with 60 seconds rest between sets
Baloon therapy is an excellent way to strengthen your diaphragm and core musculature. The balloon acts as a resistance to your exhalation and forces you to blow out hard.
Just like you’re doing a bench press for your chest muscles, you should also do this exercise to strengthen your respiratory muscles.
After a few weeks, you’ll notice that you’re less fatigued because of the increased circulation to your brain and heart. To do this exercise, you’ll need a simple balloon.
- First, stretch out the balloon, so it becomes more flexible. This will lower the chances it will blow up in your face. Believe me; I learned this the hard way.
- Take a full breath and exhale in the balloon until your lungs are empty.
- Squeeze the balloon with your fingers so the air won’t come out.
- Then, breathe normally and take a second deep breath. This time, try to blow more air in the balloon than when you did the first time
- Lastly, take a final, third deep breath and blow into the balloon
Perform three sets of 3 breathes for this exercise and do it three times a day. To make this exercise a habit, I recommend you put the balloon right next to your toothbrush.
That way, it’ll be easy to do this breathing exercise when you wake up and before you go to sleep. I was advised by my doctor to do this balloon breathing exercise right after I was diagnosed with pectus excavatum.
He even showed me scientific evidence that this exercise improves pulmonary functions in people. At first, I thought this was a silly exercise.
However, after a few weeks, I realized that my cavity was slightly elevated, and I could finally feel my stomach expanding when I took a full breath.
Bioenergetic Stool Breathing
I recommend you perform this breathing exercise before, or after you do the pectus excavatum exercises focused on the upper body. To do the exercise, you’ll need to build a bioenergetic stool.
Don’t worry; this is easy to make and costs no more than $20. You need a bar stool, Dowel rod that I purchased from Amazon, a towel, and bungee cords to hold it onto the seat.
This stool allows you to perform three different breathing exercises that will stretch the tight muscles around your sunken breastbone.
Hands Over Head
To do the first breathing exercise, you’ll need to lay with your shoulders onto the towel. Set your feet at shoulder-width apart, and pointed forward.
Extend your arms above your head and open your eyes and mouth as wide as you possibly can. Then, breathe deeply and try to lift your sunken breastbone with your breath.
You’ll feel extremely uncomfortable in this position, and that is perfectly normal. You’ll shake and vibrate all over the stool. That’s precisely what you need. You should feel that if you want to release the muscular tension in your upper body.
Aim to perform 10-15 breaths in this position. Then, rest 60 seconds and switch positions.
Middle Back on Stool
Next, you’ll lay with your middle back on the towel. Fully extend your arms, just like in the previous breathing exercise. However, the only difference is that you’ll need a bed or a couch to rest your arms on.
The purpose of that is to balance your body so that you won’t fall over the stool. The breathing is the same. Keep your eyes and mouth open and breathe in and out your mouth. Aim for ten breaths.
Fully Rested Bow
To do the final breathing exercise on the bioenergetic stool, you need to sit on the towel and fully rest your entire upper body on the couch or bed.
Because you have the pectus excavatum deformity, the majority of the muscular tightness and tension is around your chest and frontal shoulders.
This third exercise focuses more on the tight hips. You won’t feel the stretch on the breastbone as in the previous two variations.
However, it will help you correct your poor posture, especially if you’re sitting on a desk throughout the majority of the day. Perform about ten breathes.
After you do these breathing exercises, your mood will immediately improve. Your feel very energized.
I recommend you do this before your pectus excavatum bodybuilding workout because it will stretch the tight muscles that restrict natural body movement when you do the bench press, overhead press, barbell row, pull-ups etc.
In addition to this, it will improve your pectus posture, increase your flexibility for squatting, pulling and pressing.
The stomach vacuum exercise strengthens your transverse abdominis muscle, which is a deep line ab muscle. Before doing this exercise, I recommend you do deep breathes for 30 seconds.
Your focus should be to move your belly with your breath, and not your chest. The warm-up will help you loosen up the stomach muscles.
To do this exercise, you need to breathe out entirely, and then pull your stomach in, without taking a breath. Try to suck your gut inside. Visualize that your abs are touching the back of your spine.
After doing this powerful exercise for a few weeks, you’ll notice a greater core muscle activation when you’re doing other exercises.
That will help you get rid of rib flaring, which makes pectus excavatum less noticeable. Try to do five sets of 10-second holds in a day.
Rest for about 30 seconds between each set. Do this three times a week. Don’t do this exercise after you’re finished eating.
The exercise will feel very uncomfortable, and you won’t be able to activate the transverse abdominis muscles properly. Wait for at least 2 hours. I do this exercise after I wake up in the morning, before I have my breakfast.
Wim Hof Breathing
The first step is to get comfortable. For this breathing exercise, you can either sit or lay. I prefer to sit down in a meditation sitting position.
You should be able to feel the expansion of your lungs without any constriction. Stay relaxed, close your eyes and get rid of any thoughts. Start inhaling through your nose, and exhale through your mouth.
You need to inhale and feel your stomach expanding fully. Perform 40 breathes quickly and forcefully. It is normal to get light-headed and experience tingling feelings in your fingers and feet.
I did this workout with my friend, who is a basketball player and doesn’t have pectus excavatum. I felt more light-headed than him.
However, I didn’t experience any harm from that. Even Wim Hof addresses that these side-effects are harmless. The last breath of the round of 40 should be fuller than the previous breaths.
Then, let the air out and stop breathing altogether. Hold this until you need to inhale again. When you feel a need to breathe in again, take a deep breath and fill up your lungs completely.
You should feel your lungs and stomach expand. Then, hold the breath in for another 15 seconds, and then exhale. This completes one cycle.
Repeat the whole sequence four times, without stopping. After this, you’ll notice how your sternum is slightly elevated. You’ll feel a sensation that you haven’t sensed for a long time.
The above shown exercises helped me deal with my concave chest. Even though I corrected my deformity, I am still a huge fan of these breathing exercises. I do them still to this day.
Does Wim Hof Method Help?
Recently, there is a lot of buzz about breathing exercises. To be honest, that puts a smile on my face. Back in 2016, I heard about Wim Hof. He climbed Mount Everest wearing nothing but shoes and shorts.
He also sank under-ice water for about two hours, without any decrease in his body temperature. I also heard that he is doing a lot of breathing exercises and cold water therapy.
When I was diagnosed with pectus excavatum, my doctor suggested me to inflate balloons, so that my lung capacity would improve.
I started doing that and felt an immediate raise in my sunken sternum. However, that seemed too simple for me, and I ignored breathing work until I discovered that Wim Hof has a program about utilizing breathing to improve your health.
I started doing the Wim Hof method and saw a tremendous impact from his breathing techniques, which consisted of forceful inhalations and exhalations, followed by a breath-hold.
I sensed a feeling that I never experienced in my life before. My body was energized, my chest was flawlessly expanding, and I could feel no barriers in my breathing, even while I was doing my intense bodybuilding exercises.
Ever since then, I am a massive fan of his, and highly recommend his breathing exercises to every single pectus excavatum sufferer. A lot of people are ignoring the power of the breath.
What is the Wim Hof Method?
The Wim Hof Method utilizes three robust systems. Click the following link to read about the science behind this method.
Cold therapy will be beneficial to you both physically and mentally. After practising cold showers, your breathing will improve, and you’ll breathe more deeply.
When you turn the water to cold, your body will be forced to breathe heavily. That will help you raise your energy levels. Lots of people who practice cold showers are amazed by the benefits they reap from it.
I started implementing cold showers daily, while I was practising the Wim Hof Method, back in 2016. Ever since then, I recommend them to everyone, especially people suffering from the pectus excavatum deformity.
They are proven to increase the production of endorphins, which will improve your mood, increase weight loss, reduce inflammation, strengthen your immune system, balance your hormones, and improve your sleep.
The second most important principle of the Wim Hof method is breathing work. You can feel how your sunken sternum is elevated after a few weeks of forceful breathing.
You’ll feel it after you do the breathing sessions. Practising breathing exercises has a lot of potentials for a person suffering from an inverted chest condition. It will feel more energized, reduce your stress levels, and improve your immune system.
You’ll have to commit to practising both cold water therapy and breathing exercises, daily. This will make you more disciplined and will teach you about patience.
This last pillar of the Wim Hof method is hugely beneficial if you’re willing to fix the deformity non-surgically. That also requires a lot of self-discipline and commitment.
You must perform the pectus excavatum exercises, stretches, breathing work, vacuum bell therapy and wearing a brace, daily, if you want to see improvement in a short timeframe.
All of that will be easier while you’re doing the Wim Hof Method. In my opinion, it is more challenging to stay in a cold shower for 60 seconds than to do what it takes to follow the non-surgical treatment approach I advised you to follow in this article.
The Wim Hof method is perfect for every single pectus excavatum sufferer. The cold therapy will make you tougher mentally. The breathing will help you in dealing with the deformity. The commitment part will teach you about discipline.
Breathing exercises alone can’t fix pectus excavatum. However, it is proven to help you in correcting your poor pectus posture, improve your already reduced lung capacity, increase your energy, boost your self-esteem, and stretch the tight chest musculature.
You can even feel an elevation in your funnel breastbone after you’re finished doing them. When my deformity was at the worst phase at age 16, I lacked energy and had trouble socializing with other people.
The mental and physical pain motivated me to look for a non-surgical pectus excavatum solution. I was introduced to Elliott Hulse, who changed my life for the better.
The breathing and stretching exercises helped me to correct the deformity and increase my lung capacity. In this article, I shared his breathing exercises that I found most beneficial for my deformity.
I highly recommend you try all of the exercises I talked about. Pay special attention to those that make you feel very uncomfortable.
That’s because you have muscular imbalances that restrict your natural breathing patterns. Me, including some of my clients, experienced discomfort while doing the breathing exercises on the bioenergetic stool.
Words can’t express how grateful I am to Elliott Hulse who introduced me with those exercises. The breathing exercises take no more than 15 minutes a day.
All you have to do is cut your presence on social media for 15 minutes. That short amount of time has the potential to change your life for the better.
I hope that you will reap the fantastic benefits of the exercises I showed you. Those changed my life for the better, and I sincerely hope they will do the same to you.