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The Breath of Life - Diaphragmatic Breathing!

Posted on 13 November, 2017 at 1:10 Comments comments (2)


There’s been a lot said about diaphragmatic breathing. If you’re anything like me, I found most of it to be confusing! Breathing is not something most of us think about (unless you do something like yoga, take vocal lessons or massage therapy).

I didn’t really understand what it was until listening to a vocal coach by the name of Tim Carson. He made some interesting observations that for most of our lives, we’ve been told to “suck in our gut” which develops some rather terrible breathing habits. Let me ask you, have you ever watched a baby breathe in her sleep? A baby naturally breathes from the diaphragm. They breathe deeply, letting the air fill their belly (diaphragm) and they are totally relaxed!

From an early age, we're taught that breathing is part of our autonomic nervous system, like digesting food. But, unlike digestion, we actually have the ability to control our respiration! The way we breathe has the power to impact every aspect of our health and wellness, from how we think and feel to how we move.

Many of us recognize the link between breathing and physiology, particularly during times of stress, but most don't realize its reciprocal impact on our overall posture and mobility. Bad breathing creates tension and immobility. Immobility and tension prevent good breathing. What a vicious cycle!

If, like most people, your breathing is primarily chest oriented and shallow, your ribcage will get pulled into a lifted and flared state that compromises diaphragm function, requiring chest, neck, and upper back muscles to act as "accessory" breathing muscles. This causes chronic tension that locks you into a poor -- often painful -- posture with shoulders slumped forward, shoulder blades humped and your mid-back flattened.

What's more, when the diaphragm isn't being used properly for respiration, it becomes dysfunctional in its postural role, too, pulling into its attachments to your lumbar spine, causing disc compression. This chain reaction of tension from improper breathing doesn't just hurt and make it harder to move, it increases your risk of back, neck and shoulder injury.

You could spend multiple hours a day stretching and practicing "good" posture, but, because we take almost 1,000 breaths an hour, 24 hours per day, relief would only be temporary without correcting your breathing. So, to quote from a Forbes article, we need to “grab the controls and consciously change how we breathe.”

The research suggests that: when practiced consistently, diaphragmatic breathing not only results in lowered stress and anxiety but:

Results in lower blood pressure and heart rate - helping to prevent stroke and lower risk of cerebral aneurysm

Spark Brain Growth - Specifically, in areas associated with attention and processing of sensory input. The effect seems to be more noticeable in older people, which is especially good news because it’s the reverse of what typically happens as we age!

• Can alter the expression of genes involved in immune function, energy metabolism and insulin secretion

Naturally increase levels of melatonin – contributing to a better night’s sleep!

In order to practice, I’ve included this wonderful visual from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation:

Diaphragmatic breathing technique

1. Lie on your back on a flat surface or in bed, with your knees bent and your head supported. You can use a pillow under your knees to support your legs. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other just below your rib cage. This will allow you to feel your diaphragm move as you breathe. (My vocal coach has us use a phone or hardcover book placed on the tummy as a further visual aid, which will rise and fall as you breathe.)


2. Breathe in slowly through your nose so that your stomach moves out against your hand. The hand on your chest should remain as still as possible.


3. Tighten your stomach muscles, letting them fall inward as you exhale through pursed lips. The hand on your upper chest must remain as still as possible.


When you first learn the diaphragmatic breathing technique, it may be easier for you to follow the instructions lying down, as shown on the first page. As you gain more practice, you can try the diaphragmatic breathing technique while sitting in a chair, as shown below.

To perform this exercise while sitting in a chair:


1. Sit comfortably, with your knees bent and your shoulders, head and neck relaxed.

2. Breathe in slowly through your nose so that your stomach moves out against your hand. The hand on your chest should remain as still as possible.

3. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other just below your rib cage. This will allow you to feel your diaphragm move as you breathe.

4. Tighten your stomach muscles, letting them fall inward as you exhale through pursed lips. The hand on your upper chest must remain as still as possible.

Note: You may notice an increased effort will be needed to use the diaphragm correctly. At first, you'll probably get tired while doing this exercise. But keep at it, because with continued practice, diaphragmatic breathing will become easy and automatic.

How often should I practice this exercise?

At first, practice this exercise 5-10 minutes about 3-4 times per day. Gradually increase the amount of time you spend doing this exercise, and perhaps even increase the effort of the exercise by placing a book on your abdomen.

So the next time your massage therapist tells you to breathe as they work on a particularly painful trigger point, you now know how and why.

Breathe deeply... of life!



Sources:

Vocal Artistry: Breathing Vocal Training CD Tim Carson

Breathe better to move better: Train to breathe like a pro athlete

By Dana Santas, Special to CNN Updated 7:41 AM ET, Thu October 8, 2015

Diaphragmatic Breathing Reduces Exercise-Induced Oxidative Stress

Daniele Martarelli, * Mario Cocchioni, Stefania Scuri, and Pierluigi Pompei National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011; 2011: 932430. Published online 2011 Feb 10. doi: 10.1093/ecam/nep169

Breathing And Your Brain: Five Reasons To Grab The Controls

Pharma & Healthcare www.forbes.com

MAY 14, 2013 @ 12:19 AM 102,160 The Little Black Book of Billionaire Secrets

 



Exactly how much water should you drink?

Posted on 12 October, 2017 at 14:30 Comments comments (0)

The recommended amount of water to be drunk per day varies from person to person, depending on factors such as how active they are, how much they sweat, and body weight. There is no universally agreed upon amount of water that must be consumed daily, but there is a general level of consensus as to what a healthy amount is.

According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), an adequate intake for men is approximately 13 cups (3 liters) a day. For women, an adequate intake is around 9 cups (2.2 liters). However, if you want to do the math for your specific weight, a general guideline is to drink at least .5 ounces of water per 1 lb. of body weight.

An article I read in Mexico recently, to prevent/reduce inflammatory issues, even suggested that you drink a large quantity of water within 30 minutes of waking up – before eating or drinking anything else. Certainly, one way of tackling the challenge, if drinking that much throughout the day seems daunting.

Your body would be perfectly content if you drank nothing but water. You would get all the fluid you need and you would get all your nutrients from food. But with so many choices available, most people drink a variety of beverages.

To give some perspective, according to the Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health, the exact number of ounces from other liquids you drink isn’t what’s important. What matters are the proportions. Their panel suggests:

• Consuming less than 10 percent of daily calories from beverages:

At least half of your daily fluid should come from water. For a person who needs 12 cups of fluid a day, that would mean six cups of water. More is fine—up to 100% of your daily beverage needs.

• About one-third (or about three to four cups) can come from unsweetened coffee or tea. If you flavor your coffee or tea with a lot of sugar, cream, or whole milk, then drinking less would help manage weight. If you take a pass on coffee or tea, choose water instead.

• Low-fat milk can make up another 20 percent, or about two 8-ounce glasses. Less is fine, just make sure you get your calcium from another source.

• A small glass (4 ounces) of 100% fruit juice, and no more than 1 to 2 alcoholic drinks for men or no more than 1 for women.

• Ideally, zero “diet” drinks made with artificial sweeteners, but up to 1 to 2 glasses (8 to 16 ounces) a day (this is adapted from the Beverage Guidance Panel’s original recommendation of up to 32 ounces per day).

• Ideally, zero drinks sweetened with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, but up to a maximum of 8 ounces.

So, here’s a toast, to your happy, healthy, hydration!


Is there a topic you would like to see on this blog?  Contact  me in the Comments bar below



Sources:

Medical News Today: Why Is Drinking Water Important?

Last updated Tue 4 Oct 2016

By James McIntosh

Reviewed by Natalie Butler, RD, LD


Massage Therapy Principles and Practice Third Edition

Susan G. Salvo


Harvard: T H Chan School of Public Health

The Nutrition Source: Healthy Beverage Guidelines


What's the Big Deal About Drinking Water?

Posted on 2 October, 2017 at 20:00 Comments comments (0)


Water, we’ve all heard, is the most important nutrient. It regulates your body’s temperature and transports all other nutrients.

Your body is roughly 70 percent water. The statistics are varied because it breaks down even further: Your blood is composed of 83% percent water, lungs are 90%, brain 90%, and so on.

Although some of the water required by the body is obtained through foods with a high-water content (soups, tomatoes, oranges) the majority is gained through drinking water and other beverages. Preferably without caffeine or artificial sweeteners. Caffeinated beverages can actually increase your need for more water and dehydrate the body (caffeine is a diuretic) so a lot of caffeinated coffee or soda will not quench your thirst.

During every day functioning, water is lost by the body, and needs to be replaced. It is noticeable that we lose water through activities such as sweating and urination, but water is even lost when breathing.

Your kidneys filter around 120 – 150 quarts (60 – 75 litres) of fluid per day. 1 – 2 quarts (2-4 litres) are removed from the body in urine. And a whopping 198 quarts (99 litres) are recovered from the bloodstream!

So, what’s the big deal if you don’t drink enough? For starters, your kidneys need it to function properly. Without enough water they cannot filter waste products. Excess fluid can build up inside the body leading to Urinary Tract Infections, Kidney Stones (yes, the leading cause is lack of water!), and an increased risk of chronic kidney disease.

We all know that dehydration leads to an imbalance in electrolytes such as potassium, phosphates and sodium. But did you know they carry electric signals between your cells? When your kidneys are unable to maintain a balance in electrolyte levels, electrical signals become mixed up which can lead to seizures, involuntary muscle movements (spasms and cramping) and even loss of consciousness.

But that’s not all! Dehydration:

• Can affect blood thickness and increase blood pressure.

• Airways are restricted to minimize water loss potentially making asthma and allergies worse.

• Make you prone to skin disorders and premature wrinkling.

• Give you constipation and heartburn.

• Your cartilage (in joints and spine) contain 80% water. If dehydration is ongoing, joints become less efficient at shock absorption and can lead to joint pain.

• Your brain structure and function relies of proper hydration. Prolonged dehydration can even impair cognitive ability!

A very big deal, after all!

An interesting statistic by Medical News Today suggested a correlation that those who drank a low volume of water also consumed less fruit and vegetables. Yet more food for thought!

Massage Therapy helps your body circulate toxins that get ‘stuck’ in your muscles and tissues. So, when your massage therapist tells you to drink plenty of water after your treatment, now you know why.

Book your massage therapy appointment and let us help you drain those excess toxins from your lymphatic system today!

Musings on Fall and Flu Season

Posted on 23 September, 2017 at 0:15 Comments comments (0)


Your kids are back in school. The work routine resumes with new challenges. Leaves begin to turn to their fall colors and there is a bite in the air. Daylight draws shorter. Your body is attempting to adjust to the change in temperature.


Whether this season appeals, or not, there are new stresses in today’s life. The frenetic pace of life, a duty to perform, the needs of your loved ones, all distract us from self-care. While many of us tend to put the needs of others before ourselves, we won’t be of much use if we don’t pay attention to our spiritual, mental and physical needs.


Sure, you say, but easier said than done!


We’ve all heard that stress, whether internal or external, has a direct correlation to our immune system. Ever wondered why?


Scientifically speaking – our bodies (specifically the endocrine system) produce a higher level of a substance (hormone) called cortisol when stressed. Cortisol produces an anti-inflammatory response and affects carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism. (Weight gain, anyone?) While necessary for short periods, over prolonged time, it inhibits your immune system.


Is it any wonder that fall is synonymous with flu season? But what to do?


Listen to what your body needs to boost its immune system; get the right amount of sleep, drink plenty of water, consider supplementation, eat healthy (more on this later). For example, if you have a craving for a specific food – your body is telling you it needs a particular vitamin, mineral, enzyme, fat or protein. You simply know you have a craving for soup, mashed potatoes, nuts, etc. Maybe ask yourself what’s in that food you love so much?


Do what you love. Unplug. Now is the time to read that good book, take that walk, soak in the tub, or spend quality time with friends or family.


Schedule time for a massage! Most people do not know that massage therapy reduces cortisol levels. Regular massage will boost your immune system.


But massage therapy can be so expensive/I can’t justify the expense right now, you say?


Many probably spend more on Starbuck’s Coffee in a month or a night out on the town than you would on a half hour massage or “Aroma Touch” session. Your health is way more valuable! Both to you and your family. And, at A Stitch in Time Therapeutics, we can even connect you with essential oils that neutralize viruses that cause flu and colds!



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