I am working with a client who came to me wanting to learn how to breathe better because of an advanced stage of emphysema. The client’s main goal was to find a satisfying breath, to feel the benefits of a full exhalation. In our intake discussion I learned that in addition to the desire to breath better to support daily activities, this client was experiencing pain in the torso, ribcage, and in both shoulders.
The client’s situation was complex and my goal was to help him find that “real exhalation” that he wished for. In chronic breathing related conditions such as emphysema, somatic therapy can be a powerful treatment option.
Somatic Therapy is powerful for breathing related conditions, including chronic conditions such as emphysema.
Those with emphysema experience shortness of breath and the lung tissues involved in the exchange of gases (oxygen and carbon dioxide) are impaired or destroyed. This means that their oxygen levels are often low and their heart rate is much higher than normal.
Learn more about Emphysema here.
The Anatomy of Breathing
We know from our anatomy that our diaphragm muscle, which is located at the bottom of the ribcage, contracts and descends as we breathe in, pressing downward on the contents of the belly. It is this downward action that draws the breath in to fill up the lungs.
As part of this breathing mechanism, the fingers of the ribs separate. The intercostal muscles that lie between the ribs lengthen to allow the ribs to expand in a three dimensional way.
As we breathe out, the intercostal muscles return back to their resting length to allow the ribs to knit back together, and the diaphragm muscle must lengthen to direct the air up and out of the lungs.
Watch this great video here to see how our diaphragm, intercostal muscles and ribs move with the inhalation and exhalation.
With chronic conditions like emphysema, these muscles lose the ability to contract and lengthen well, and add to that the changes going on inside the lungs, breathing is further limited.
In just 4 sessions and a home practice my client has proven that Somatic therapy is powerful for breathing related conditions. In this short time my client has been able to regain voluntary control over the muscles of the ribcage and trunk, releasing the tight grip that created an additional level of resistance to the action of taking in and releasing breath. This client learned how to reconnect the brain’s awareness and control over the contraction and release of the primary and secondary breathing muscles.
The results have been amazing.
This client is able to document pre and post session heart rate and oxygen levels using a Digital Fingertip Heartrate Oxymeter.
At the beginning of the session Heartrate (HR) was recorded at 90 BPM and Oxygen (Sp02) was recorded at 83. That number represents the peripheral capillary oxygen saturation, an estimate of oxygen in the blood.
After a one hour clinical session, HR decreased from 90 to 78 BPM and the Oxygen saturation increased from 83 to 93. This is an incredible shift in such a short period of time.
The client also has reported these fascinating results: A complete resolution of shoulder pain after only 3 weeks of working with a home program; a sense of ease and freedom when walking and an improvement in stamina and balance.
Incorporating a well-rounded therapeutic home program that includes somatic movement re-education, interoception, breathing practices, mind study and functional movement integration can lend extraordinary results.
This case is just one example of the power of the combined Method we teach and the benefits and changes that thousands of clients have created for themselves.
Spend some time on our website. You won’t be disappointed.
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