A Can Of Soda – And How It Relates To Posture and Breathing

Soda Pop

Soda Pop

Do you have a child that has poor posture? Difficulty swallowing? Difficulty with bowel/bladder excretions?

This concept I am about to explain will actually relate our BREATHING to all of these different issues.

You may be saying… “How on earth is a can of soda related to breathing or posture?!” I was thinking the same thing a few weeks ago when I attended a continuing education course on breathing and posture. It is based off of a model developed by Mary Massery. She herself is a therapist and a pioneer for the physical therapy community. She was even the one to teach the course I attended…totally star struck (in a nerd way) :).

So, it is called “The Soda Pop Can Model”. Let’s start with a can of soda. When the soda can is closed, you can’t crush the can. You can crush the can however, when it is open. So the structure of the can (the aluminum) is not what gives it strength.

Why can’t you crush it when its closed? What gives it its strength?

PRESSURES. When the can is closed, it has a higher pressure inside than the pressure of the air outside. Pretty basic.

So, Massery explains how our trunk is just like a can of soda. Well, she would say “pop” but she’s obviously not from New York. We have our head at the top, diaphragm in the middle, feet at the bottom. Our diaphragm plays a VERY important role, not only in breathing but also in posture! Above the diaphragm we have our “thoracic cavity” AKA lungs, chest, and vocal folds, and below the diaphragm we have our abdomen and pelvic floor. ALL of these structures in our bodies and all of our varying pressures in our different cavities are essential in our posture. Our pressures are constantly changing during our breathing.

Back to the can…if the can is open, you CAN crush it. Why?

You are giving up the pressures from the inside that is allowing it to stay in its original position. Our bodies very much work similarly. If you have a weak “top of your can” aka, vocal folds, your posture and functional strength will suffer. Does your child have difficulty swallowing/feeding? They have a weakened “top of their can” and therefore have difficulty regulating their breath with their swallowing. It works the same the other way too; If you have a weak “bottom of your can” aka pelvic floor, you will not be able to regulate the internal pressures of your can (your trunk) and you may have difficulty with gastrointestinal mobility and postural control.

Everything is related to our pressures that the diaphragm regulates. To have postural control (control over our trunk and positioning), our INTERNAL pressures must be greater than the forces OUTSIDE (gravity). JUST like the can! If a child is weak and has difficulty regulating this, they will have a harder time sitting up by themselves and breathing. Bet you never thought that your posture can be related to your breathing right?

Good news is, there’s plenty of exercises and techniques that can help. Posture is SO important. Not only does it affect our ability to interact in our environment but it plays a huge role in feeding, breathing, and excretions! The better our posture and breathing, the less risk there is in further impairments from poor posture (things like scoliosis and aspiration). Make sure you help your loved one keep their cans full! 🙂

If you are interested in learning more about your specific situation, make sure to email me at christine@breakthroughptli.com or give a call to 631-348-0959 and we would be more than happy to answer any and all questions that you may have!

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Christine Astarita