The correct position to assume to cure a round back. Place first the back of one hand then the other against the spine, between the shoulders. Place as high and keep as central as possible purify or pollute our bloodstreams with air or whatever noxious mixture may happen to do duty for that life-giving element.
If the nation interested itself seriously in the art of breathing, there would be a social and public revolution, for the enlightened would refuse to enter almost every shop, public building, closed vehicle, warehouse, church, or other place where the atmosphere was vitiated with odours, or was stagnant through an insufficiency of air currents. Suffice it to say, that the value of breathing depends even more upon what is breathed than upon how it is breathed.
Why Women Breathe Differently from Men
Women are popularly supposed to breathe in a different manner to men, from their different physical conformation. It is true that women do breathe differently, because the action of their ribs is impeded by the wearing of corsets. If men's ribs were under the same artificial control they would breathe in the same constricted manner. If women were clothed as men they would breathe as men breathe. Every male and female infant breathes alike, and the difference only begins with a difference in their clothing. Physical culture, perfect health, and the beauty that it brings can only be acquired by letting the ribs (which control the breathing) have full play and by allowing a free circulation of the skin or* surface of the body, so that it may do its part in combusting - burning up - and clearing off impure and useless tissue-waste. A muddy complexion, discoloration of the skin, pimples and blotches, or else an anaemic whiteness must eventually accrue when blood-purification is imperfect.
When in bed, untrammelled with bands or constrictions, and lying on the back, the method of breathing should be carefully observed. It will be found that the front and sides of the trunk rhythmically expand, rise, and fall. When inhaling they rise, when exhaling they fall.
A weak back and a crooked spine, as well as hip disease, are frequently developed by habitually adopting a bad position in sitting or standing. The above is an inelegant and weak attitude
But, though breathing is an involuntary act, it is an act which can be placed, to a certain extent, under voluntary and beneficial control.
At first, practise these in the morning before rising, and while lying flat with;arms at the sides. Have all windows wide open. Everyone's breathing, unless cultivated, is more shallow and limited than it should be. Begin by drawing longer and deeper breaths, and proportionately lengthen the time of the respirations. Note the increase in the expanding of the chest. Let the inbreathing and out-breathing be equal to one another as regards time. Take about twenty of such respirations every morning for a week, always gradually making them longer, and consequently slower and deeper.
Then begin to "hold" the breath, slowly counting a certain number at the termination of every inhalation, after which make as complete an expiration as possible. Begin by counting four, and each day increase by one, till nine or ten counts are accomplished. Then take a series of respirations that fill the top of the lungs below the clavicles, or collar-bones, followed by a series that expands the lower ribs to their utmost, and concluded by a series that chiefly affect the abdomi nal muscles and draw up the diaphragm, as indicated b y a n indrawn hollowing o f the part. Always conclude with a few long and deeply drawn natural respirations.
A variety of breathing exercises are usually advised by most authorities, but the writer puts an exact limit to the value of exercises taken for their own sake only, and while in the house. The real practical value of these preliminary exercises in giving lung control and developing lung capacity will be appreciated and developed during outdoor games, walking, cycling, etc.
Certain movements of the body tend to lower and depress
Hollow back, a condition which can also be remedied by suitable exercises the ribs, others do the reverse. One movement favours inhalations and another exhalations. Correct breathing facilitates the exercises, and certain exercises facilitate the breathing.
Animals and healthy children naturally time their respirations to the motions of the body.
Inhale when the head or the trunk is thrown or stretched backward; when the shoulders are raised or pushed backwards; when the arms are raised or stretched horizontally sideways with palms upwards; when the hands rest on the hips with the elbows backwards; when the hands are carried upwards towards the back of the head with the palms upwards; and when rising from the knees.
Exhale during the opposite positions, as when the head or the trunk is bent forward or downward; when the shoulders are lowered or pushed forward; when the arms are depressed or stretched horizontally forwards, the palms facing one another; when the hands rest on the hips with the elbows forward; when the arms are brought from an upward position towards the ground or pressed against the chest; when the knees bend low.
Like the man who found he had been talking prose all his life without knowing it, the physical culturist has been practising self-osteopathy without knowing it. The leading principle of osteopathy is the adjustment of the vertebrae, or the bones of the spine, to their normal position, so that the nerves leaving the spinal cord between the vertebrae are not interfered with in their action, either in the direction of being irritated or depressed. Remembering that so many functions of the body depend for their vitality upon nervous impulses, the importance of having every part of the complicated structure of the vertebrae in perfect normal alignment and relationship is obviously vital. The osteopath seeks by his manipulative skill to cure numerous diseases. He frees dormant forces, and suppresses abnormal activities. The woman who succeeds in maintaining perfect spinal conditions by the foregoing exercises will retain her health and youthfulness in a manner that will astonish all who know her real age.
Osteopathy, in America, has almost completely supplanted massage, which it may some day do in this country. It also offers to cultured Englishwomen a new, noble, and highly lucrative profession, and will ere long take its place in the foremost ranks of advanced remedial agents.
A subsequent article will deal with exercises for developing certain facial muscles, removing lines and wrinkles, developing the muscles of the throat, removing the hollows familiarly known as "salt-cellars," and for strengthening the clavicular, or shoulder, muscles. These latter being, as it were, the commencements of Nature's chest supports, waist corsets, and abdominal straps and bands, the importance of their full development can hardly be over-estimated, either from an artistic or physiological standpoint. They support, determine the position of, and strongly influence many of the internal vital organs, especially those that determine the outlines of the figure. It is the " sagging," or slackness, of these muscles that produce in the prime of life an appearance of old age, as their influence begins from immediately below the chin and extends down the whole of the front of the body.
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A correct and upright position for sitting. The seat of the chair is sufficiently large to support the spine at the back, and its height enables the feet to rest easily on the floor
A lying attitude will counteract the effects of stooping and of fatigue incurred during the day. The pillow should be placed under the shoulder'blades, not under the head. The position should be maintained for several minutes