Breathing is something we all do every minute and every day of our lives. Such a vital process, breathing helps us sustain life, yet we do it almost subconsciously, without even realizing it. Surely, no one thinks about every breath they take, to make sure they’re maximizing their inhalation and exhalation potential. But how can you tell if the way you breathe is affecting your health in a negative way? And how can massage therapy have a positive impact on your breathing techniques?
There are two types of breathing, one that uses the chest muscles to inhale and exhale, and another that utilizes the abdominal and back muscles to fill the lungs with air. Chest breathing is characterized by quick, short breaths, almost resembling hyperventilation. This type of breathing simply doesn’t provide enough air to the lungs, and is often the result of stress. Alternately, abdominal breathing makes the most out of every breath you take, filling the lungs to capacity each and every time.
Proper breathing has a direct effect on other aspects of the body and your health, such as blood circulation, and can also be affected by certain types of behaviors. If you’re like most people, you’ve likely been told as a child not to slouch, and to stand up straight. Although it may have seemed like it at the time, this wasn’t just nagging from a grown-up; these orders were for good reason. Good posture not only helps your body distribute your weight evenly, which keeps stress off your bones, but it also assists with proper breathing, and demands less energy from your relaxed body to take a simple breath.
So how does massage therapy fit into conscious breathing? As a massage therapist, you have a prime opportunity to instruct your clients on the techniques they can use to begin learning abdominal breathing, which will alleviate stress on their muscles and ribs, and can also promote whole-body relaxation.
Learn more about certain behaviors that can lead to chest breathing, and how you can suggest simple exercises to encourage healthy breathing using the abdominal muscles.
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