The importance of breathing
“The impact of breathing”
By Debra Ross
“Breath literally impacts every cell in your body. Each cell, whether it is from your brain, muscle, blood, or any other body system, depends on breath for survival. Why? Because the oxygen derived from breath inhalation provides the energy that each cell needs for life maintenance, growth, and repair. The cell then rids itself of its toxic waste in the form of carbon dioxide, which is ultimately exhaled through breath. The rhythmic cycle of inhalation and exhalation governs this vital life balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange.
Breath does this and so much more! The mechanics of breath can help you improve mental, emotional and physical health. Breath has a direct influence on how the body functions.
You can actively “turn off” your stress response and achieve relaxation.
The autonomic nervous system (ANS) controls about 90% of your automatic functions, including the stress response. This system has two branches that interact to maintain homeostasis: the sympathetic (commonly referred to as the “fight or flight” response) and parasympathetic (commonly referred to as the relaxation response). When under stress, the fight or flight response is activated and you tend to breathe in a shallow, rapid, sporadic manner. By consciously breathing in a slow, diaphragmatic, and rhythmic way, the autonomic nervous system can be manipulated into activating its relaxation response and diminishing the stress you feel. The result is that you can actively “turn off” your stress response and achieve relaxation.
About 90% of all the body’s energy is created by oxygen. At the cellular level, oxygen reacts with glucose (the end product of fats, starch, and sugar in the body) and produces energy, water, and carbon dioxide. The energy is stored in the body as adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is the fuel that the body uses for the thousands of functions performed within each body system. It is needed to digest food, process mental information, pump our hearts, fight bacteria, heal tissue, and remove toxins. Basically, everything that is needed to keep us well. Breathing in a slow, diaphragmatic, and rhythmic manner has the power to enhance your body’s oxygenation, thus creating more energy, and improving the way you feel.”
In my own research on respiratory work I reviewed an article that discussed the benefits for scoliosis patients. Scoliosis can severely affect lung capacity and therefore the individual’s ability to engage in various activities and thereby severely affect quality of life. Training in management and building of breath control and diaphragmatic strength can qualitatively and quantitatively change the effects of scoliosis.
Here is my review of the article:
A Spanish study evaluated the effectiveness of respiratory retraining in young AIS patients. Scoliosis patients have insufficient respiratory capabilities due to secondary hypercapnia. The patients participated in five, sixty minute breathing therapy sessions with a respiratory specialist with an in-home follow-up for the next six months. Outcome measures were the subjects absolute forced vital capacity, forced expiratory volume, FEV1%/FEV1. Lung function was evaluated before the intervention and at the end stage of rehabilitation in the homes. After treatment, only 4% had poor respiratory effort and 88% were asymptomatic (no longer experiencing dyspnea). Overall they found improved lung function, decreased respiratory symptoms, and increased tolerance in children at risk for pulmonary restriction.
Idiopathic scoliosis was present in 52% of patients, with right dorsal curvature in 72%. Cobb angle average was 50.6° ± 29.7°. Most importantly, we found a negative correlation between this angle on left curvature and lung function. Initially, the main respiratory symptoms were dyspnea with poor effort tolerance in 52%. After treatment, 88% of patients were asymptomatic and only 4% presented poor effort tolerance. Oxygen saturation and forced vital capacity percentage had a significant increment after the program.
25 patients aged 6-18, 50% of which had AIS, 70% with right curve, average Cobb angle of 50 degrees +/- 30 degrees (scoliotic curves ranged from 20-80 degrees). Respiratory symptoms were dyspnea and poor effort tolerance in 50% of the subjects. After treatment, 88% were asymptomatic and only 4% still had poor effort tolerance. O2 sat and FVCP had a significant increment after program.
Ref: Solache-Carranco. “Evaluation of a respiratory rehabilitation program on children with scoliosis.” Cir Cir 2012; 80: 11-17.