Chest Breathing and Posture

Posture and Breath, breathe, breathing

Chest breathing versus belly breathing, or diaphragmatic breathing makes a significant impact on a number of health and wellbeing factors. Shallow chest breathers experience more stress, lower energy levels and now research shoes it also plays a part in posture.

“Breathing is the most important motion,” Dr. Steven Weiniger

People who are chest breathers typically roll their shoulder forward and suffer from forward head posture, both lead to overly tight chest muscles and overly weak back muscles. Forward Head Breathing (FHB) is the posture pattern that occurs when these postural shifts restrict the ability to breath with the abdomen. These factors can also contribute to headaches and neck pain.

Research from Northwestern University also revealed that deep diaphragmatic breaths helps to encourage a strong upright posture.

Chest Breathing – Chest Breathers have more Postural Sway than Belly Breathers

A new study showed that abdominal breathing promotes a more stable posture. Using a forceplate to do a posturographic exam, there was significantly greater posture disturbance when breathing involved the chest than when it involved the belly.

How to Breathe Properly

What does deep belly breathing look like? It’s actually easy to spot if your spouse or friend is a belly or chest breather.

Want Help? Contact Us

Contact us and tell us more including the type of breathing question you have, and what you’ve done so far to get relief.

It’s also helpful to provide your location if you’d like local resources.

When you take a deep breath:

  • Your chest rises (Chest Breather)  ☒
  • Your shoulders rise (Chest Breather)  ☒
  • Your belly expands (Belly Breather)  ☑

 Take a Deep Diaphragmatic Breath:

  1. Roll your shoulders up, back and then gently down
  2. Place a hand on your chest and a hand on your belly
  3. Keep the hand on your chest as a reminder to keep your chest still
  4. Take a slow deep breath and expand your belly, making the hand on your belly rise
  5. Exhale slowly while pressing the hand on your belly into your belly to help expel the air
  6. Now, take another deep breath and as your belly fills with air let it push the hand on your belly away
  7. Repeat daily for 5 slow breaths


Respiratory disturbance to posture varies according to the respiratory mode. Alain Hamaoui, Eric Gonneau and Serge Le Bozec Neurosci Lett 475(3):141-4 (2010) PMID 20350584

Northwestern University. DOI: 10.1016/j.neulet.2010.03.064