What do we do all day and night that is vital to our survival?
How can we improve and enhance our general feeling of well-being?
What can we use to help boost our parasympathetic nervous system (the system that controls functions such as our digestion, healing and repair)?
The answer to all these questions is the same – BREATHING.
Breathing is something we do automatically, without even giving it a second thought. But to optimise our health and wellbeing, there are definitely patterns of breathing that can help to make us feel more energised. Unfortunately there are also patterns of breathing that can make us feel downright awful!
At rest an adult should take 10-14 breaths per minute, consequently more than that is hyperventilating. We breathe air through our nose or mouth through the trachea and into the lungs, where the oxygen is transferred to the red blood cells through the alveoli then moved to all our organs and muscles, including the brain. Our body converts the oxygen to carbon dioxide (CO2) which is then breathed out.
If we over breathe (too big a breaths or breathing too rapidly or in a bad pattern) then we breathe out too much CO2. If CO2 reduces in our systems then it can lead to a variety of symptoms including:
- trouble concentrating or switching our brains off
- cold hands and feet
- tightness in the mouth
- palpitations (heart racing) *
- chest pain *
- muscle tension
- bloated stomach
- tingling and pins and needles
- blurred vision
- feeling short of breath
(If you experience any of the symptoms with a * please see your doctor)
It is all a bit scary isn’t it!? And it all can be triggered from too much rushing, along with other triggers such as low iron, life events, colds, hayfever, menopause and many others. However, the good news is we can help all this, make ourselves feel better and reduce stress by improving our breathing. In addition, relaxed breathing helps to switch off the fight/flight response and get your relaxation response working.
Allison Aspinall is our physiotherapist with a special interest and extra training in treating breathing pattern disorders and hyperventilation. After thoroughly assessing your situation (we allow an hour for the first visit) she will help you to retrain your breathing and teach you techniques to help you feel better and stay better! Click here to book an appointment.