I am very lucky to have the lovely Magdalena Brzozowska coming into clinic recently to help me coach breathing. The way you breath can be attributed to a multitude of things, however it can often be a real fight or flight response which does not respond to just hands on diaphragm inhibition or other manual techniques.
I have always been a huge fan of surrounding myself with fantastically diverse therapists who are passionate about what they do and who quite frankly do it better than I could ever dream of. Having a network like this is not only of huge benefit for my patients, but has always been great for business and has enabled me to learn massively from those around me. It is a win-win-win situation for everyone involved.
Why it matters
Breathing is the first thing we do as we enter this life and the last thing we do as we leave it. Our first few breaths drive the amniotic fluid from our lungs and away we go ready to thrive and prosper….or do we?
I assess breathing patterns on every person who comes to see me as it is often an area that could do with a little TLC and that if compromised can cause havoc globally. Neck pain, back pain, knee pain, dizziness, palpitations, poor digestion, thoracic outlet syndrome….the list is endless and from what I have seen ‘dysfunctional’ (….ooh I hate that word) breathing is some-what of an epidemic in our 100 mile per hour, desk bound world.
Recently I have had the pleasure of working alongside the lovely Magdalena Brzozowska to provide a multidisciplinary approach to help people reconnect with their breath. Magdalena draws on yoga to help people explore their breathing patterns and in doing so empowers them to be able to wash respiration through their joints, viscera, muscles and perhaps most importantly their minds. Having assessed through osteopathy, Anatomy in Motion and NKT whether the diaphragm is a major part in someone’s presentation, I have passed several patients across to her and let her work her magic.
When I return, and before even laying on hands to reassess, the changes in the room are easily observable. A cloudy, smiley and slightly hazy look of calm always greets me and I can immediately feel and hear the difference as I walk back in. It is as as if ‘fight or flight’ has left the building and the body and mind have become one again. Breathing slows, the pitch of the voice changes and the speed at which words tumble out relax into a leisurely amble.
The beauty of having a set of objective markers from the initial assessment is that it allows us to quantify the effectiveness of her treatment in addition to experiencing the changes from within. Pelvic floor quadrant strength often magically reappears, as does transverse abdominal and multifidus strength. Restricted neck vertebrae instinctively release as the accessory neck breathing muscles get a chance to relax their vice like grip, and lower back segments that have been under the strangle hold of the diaphragm’s tendinous attachments get a chance to breath. Rib cages that have been torsioned by asymmetric contractions of the diaphragm are encouraged by mindful breathing to let go and muscular tension within our closed system begins to unravel.
Watching movement change can be equally as staggering. The diaphragm and inner core link the lower and upper limbs together. As the oblique fascial slings cross over the body they rely on firm foundations to function effectively and efficiently. To see a body access rotation equally and easily as it ambulates is a great aim for every session. From there on in, every step reinforces the body’s ability to heal itself outside of clinic.
Conclusion and homework
The homework…..enjoy using your body as diversely as possible again, check in with your breathing and escape the rat race by taking the time for yourself. As you sit on the tube, tune in to your breath put some good music on your iPod and smile. This medicine is free, has no side effects and is incredibly powerful.
Stay posted for the next article where we will go into more depth on some exercises to help you on your journey. Until then keep breathing.