Breathe Well to Age Well

Nov 16, 2015

 By Dan Miller, PT, MS, Healing Motion Physical Therapy

 

Breathing: the first thing and the last thing we do on this earth - it must be important.

 

Have you ever thought of your breathing as correlating to how your body generates movement? Any compromise to the way we breathe will ultimately be recognized as a depletion of available energy, affecting how we feel and even move.

 

Sometimes when it hurts to move, it could actually come from a compromise to breathing. This confusion lies in part to generally associating a breathing problem with more severe illnesses such as episodes of asthma or more consistent conditions such as emphysema. Instead, our bodies are inherently equipped with survival reflexes: when our most efficient mechanisms of breathing to any degree are compromised, our brain communicates an immediate “masking” response in the form of muscular substitutions or adaptive postural strategies. While this form of “masking” response preserves breathing, its capacity doesn’t fully support the body’s physical demands, or healthy or necessarily pain-free movement.

 

Breathing problems, if left undetected, can  contribute to the foundations of chronic pain, anxiety and depression, metabolism disorders or other health-related problems. The nature of this is both subtle and complex, making its detection as well as its resolution a great challenge. However for the person knowingly or unknowingly affected by this illness, its resolution can be dramatically life changing and therefore certainly worth its pursuit.

 

From a Physical Therapy perspective of addressing and ultimately resolving problems with breathing, it is necessary to recognize both the onset as well as its potential implications associated with movement health.

 

So, what is breathing – healthy breathing? The normal production of breathing from a mechanical perspective requires our essential muscles to create pressure changes within our lungs, moving air in with inhalation and out with exhalation. While this seems relatively straightforward, if the ability to breathe easy declines, the rest of the body functions, including movement, also may decline.

 

Subtle compromises in breathing, such as in posture, for example, can overtime dramatically deteriorate the capacity of critical respiratory muscles to do their job. Our body ultimately establishes a modified movement pattern to generate the essential quantities of air movement. If the body cannot get back to breathing normally, it may begin to experience micro respiratory distress. A person living with this may not show any immediate outward signs or even perceived symptoms. The body, however, becomes on high alert: fight or flight.

 

Do you have chronic pain? How is your breathing? If left unchecked, problems with all-important breathing can have complex and life depleting consequences. Producing life-sustaining breath ultimately becomes an existence – activity and movement becomes secondary.

 

The reality is that beyond the symptoms that bring a patient to Physical Therapy, there are likely many co-existing circumstances that are contributing to the patient’s well-being. The good news is our bodies are resilient and with proper physical therapy, patience and persistence, many complex disorders can be treated and well-being can return.

 

Allow Healing Motion Physical Therapy to fulfill your capacity to optimally heal ­– restoring the essential movements of your well-being.

 

 

 



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