We breathe more than 20, 000 times per day. The diaphragm is the main muscle used for breathing as well as the most important.
Most of the time this mechanism stays unconscious, controlled by our autonomic nervous system but we are able to control it and therefore control our breathing.
We know the main function of breathing is the gaseous exchange between the air and the blood. It allows for carbon dioxide to leave our body and for oxygen to enter.
However, this is not its only function. The movement of the diaphragm during the breathing cycle has a few other functions:
- Digestive and hormonal: moving of the abdominal organs and glands
- Circulatory: circulation of the venous blood and the lymph
Low quality breathing causes:
- A decrease of oxygen in the blood and an increase of carbon dioxide,
- Lower blood pH (blood acidification and increased of blood pressure),
- Slower digestion,
- Muscular stiffness, such as cramps…
This is why being able to breathe properly is crucial to health and well-being.
At heart level, there are baroreceptors located in the blood vessels. During the breathing cycle, the intra thoracic pressure changes and this modification reverberates on the blood vessels walls. The baroreceptors sense it and transmit the information to the autonomic nervous system (ANS).
This process entails:
- Breathing out: pressure decreases, parasympathetic stimulation occurs
- Breathing in: pressure increases, parasympathetic inhibition causes sympathetic liberation
This is a really important point, because it means we are able to take action over the ANS by breathing and this opens a window to our inner life.
It is well known that mental and emotional states directly affect the activity of the ANS and vice-versa. A balanced ANS is the best indicator of health and well-being.
Osteopathy with precise and gentle manipulations will find and fix losses of mobility which restrain breathing. After these dysfunctions are fixed, your body needs time to keep working and integrate the osteopathic work to find a new balance more suitable and healthy. But to facilitate the integrations of the treatments and to prevent these kinds of issues, some exercises can be useful in addition to an osteopathic treatment. You can have more information here.