The respiratory system is transformative for physical function. Your breath can power you to run a marathon. Similarly, pulmonary pathology (COVID, pneumonia, bronchitis) can zap all of your energy. Not only does breathing affect energy levels and oxygenation of your cells, it affects most systems in the body.
The diaphragm, the primary of respiration, is a large muscular sheet that lines the base of the ribcage. The movement of the diaphragm facilitates breathing in addition to digestion, circulation, continence, and even movement of the heart. Relaxation of the diaphragm, due to poor strength and coordination, is a primary reason for reflux. After childbirth, many women have pelvic floor weakness and some experience increased frequency and urgency to use the bathroom. Since contraction of the diaphragm facilitates contraction of the pelvic floor, breathing exercises are the first and best way to improve pelvic floor strength, core function, and continence. Research has conclusively shown that improvements in diaphragmatic function and a reduced respiratory rate will improve cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and overall health markers (like Heart Rate Variability). For this reason, treatments to improve breathing have the capacity to improve the entire body, which is inspirational.
The diaphragm is also a key part of the musculoskeletal system. When patients are unable to breathe with the diaphragm, they have to use other muscles for inhalation, like the neck. This leads to neck tightness and neck pain. Since it attaches onto the low back (lumbar spine), weakness can result in back pain as well as postural impairments.
At VARDĀN, we assess breathing with every patient. We are able to ensure good mobility of each part of the respiratory system from the nose past the trachea to the rib cage down to the abdomen. We utilize a technique called Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) to put our hands on the abdomen and facilitate better strength and endurance of the diaphragm. The effectiveness of these treatments might just take your breath away.
Jane Lucas, clinic director at VARDĀN, was the lead speaker on this subject at the national physical therapy conference for the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy (AAOMPT) in 2021. She has seen full resolution of indigestion and reflux after 3 treatments targeting the respiratory system. It has also dramatically changed neck pain, incontinence, and stress levels for many of her patients. One patient was slated to have uterine prolapse repair, but she was able to prevent surgery with these techniques. The outcomes are truly breathtaking.
If you have experienced any breathing related illness, such as COVID-19, bronchitis, pneumonia, etc, an evaluation and treatment at VARDĀN Physiotherapy Center may really help you. In addition to improvements in breathing and energy levels, you may improve the health of your entire body. You should breathe easier just knowing that these skilled therapists are so close and accessible.
Jane Lucas, PT, DPT, PBFR, CFMT, FAAOMPT FIT