There is one phrase in particular that I often have to repeat to patients during deep tissue sessions is, “remember to take slow deep breathes”. Not only is oxygen essential on a cellular level, controlled breathing helps the body to relax; especially during trigger point therapy. There are breathing techniques used during certain activities such as yoga, boxing, meditation (reducing stress), sleep aid; the list goes on.
Here are five benefits for controlled breathing:
- Stress Management- Controlled breathing prevents the brain from being in a constant state of stress which in turn prevents subsequent damage brought on by high stress levels.
- Anxiety Management- Breathing triggers the parasympathetic nervous system which is linked to stimulation of the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is responsible for mediating the nervous system’s responses and decreasing heart rate. The vagus nerve releases a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine that catalyzes increased focus and calmness. The more acetylcholine present there will be decreased feelings of anxiety.
- Lower Blood Pressure and Heart Rate- this also means less wear and treat on the blood vessels. Prevents the occurrence of stroke and lowers the risk of cerebral aneurysm.
- Brain Growth- Studies have shown that breathing used to facilitate meditation can increase brain size. The brain experiences growth in areas associated with attention and processing sensory input.
- Alter Gene Expression- specifically the genes involved in immune function, energy metabolism, and insulin secretion.
Some ways to achieve the relaxation response is mindfulness meditation, yoga, tai chi, progressive muscle relaxation, Qi Gong, and guided imagery. There are also several YouTube videos for guided meditation that emphasis controlled breathing.
Jennifer Roldan, massage therapist Northwest Wellness Federal Way, WA