The biggest muscle in the neck is the diaphragm (3, 4, & 5 keeps the diaphragm alive). It has a domed shape that descends on inhalation, creating a thoracic vacuum to draw in air. It works all day and all night, optimally contracting about 8-12 times per minute, while at the same time giving the organs a lovely massage. At any stage we can arrest its action and temporarily survive underwater. The breath holding record stands at 22 minutes!
Breathing can go wrong
Modernization comes with a price; increased stimulation, stress, pressure, and more working hours (I’ll expand on this in i SAW 15). Coupled with a decrease in exercise, compromised posture, poorer nutrition and less quality down time, the breath of life can be adversely affected. Forward head position, mouth breathing, upper chest breathing, hyperventilation, and sighing and heaving can lead to over-breathing. Over-breathing results in reduced CO2 levels and tissue oxygenation, and respiratory alkalosis (the pH goes up).
It’s important for us to recognize breathing pattern disorders in our patients. The second edition of Leon Chaitow’s Recognizing and Treating Breathing Disorders will soon be out. Back in the day, I used neuromuscular therapy to complement the work of co-author and fellow kiwi Dinah Bradley. 360 NMT was proud to host a sold-out workshop this past April with Dr. Chaitow about breathing pattern disorders. This coming weekend, 360 NMT is excited to present Hadas Golan as she teaches the breath-work of Russian physician Dr. Konstantin Buteyko. Buteyko’s method was featured on Mercola.com recently.
Like many other manual therapy pioneers, Buteyko developed his method by solving his own issues. In his case he controlled his high blood pressure (220/110) by optimizing his breathing. One part of the Buteyko Method uses the ‘control pause’ i.e. the ability to hold the exhalation. Practicing breath-holding may increase your fitness. Join us this Saturday!