Breathing is an essential part of life, as we all know, but is it something you have ever really stopped to think about? If you have never done meditation/yoga or never had a professional bodyworker its likely you haven’t in too much detail.
Today I’m here to tell you how massage can help you breath easier and how breathing can help improve you massage experience and results.
If you have ever had a deep tissue, remedial or particularly painful massage in your life, you have probably had the therapist tell you to breath through it, we do this for a few reasons, first off it is a good distraction for your brain to get through that moment of pain, it may still be painful but you will find you can manage it better almost instantly. Secondly deep breathing had a direct impact on a number of systems of the body, for instance deep breathing promotes blood flow and improves the lymphatic systems function, which promote healing therefore giving you better results from your massage. You will also feel more relaxed due to effect deep breathing has on your blood pressure and heart rate. And finally deep breathing can reduce pain allowing you to relax and the more you can relax through a massage the better the results you will see.
As I already mentioned you may never have stopped to think about how your breathing is effecting you, but sit quietly now or lay down and just breath, trying not to change it, What do you notice? Is your stomach elevating with each breath? Are your ribs expanding? How long is each breath? Are you breathing through your nose or mouth and is it different when you inhale and exhale? Now take some deep breaths, and take note, Do you notice a difference? Are your longs filling lower down into your stomach? Can you notice a difference in the tension in your torso and shoulders? Is one side moving freer than the other?
This last part is key because as a remedial therapist I look for differences, differences all to often occur and can certainly be the cause of your pain, there are many muscles involved in allowing breathing to occur easily, throughout the torso/ribs, shoulders and neck. If these muscles become tight it restricts the movement making breathing more challenging. So how does massage help breathing? Quite simply by removing the tension from the torso, neck and shoulders there will be freedom for the lungs to expand and fill adequately.
Next time you are feeling stressed or having a massage focus on your breathing, making it deep and slow and take note of the difference it make.
To practice deep breathing firstly I must say it is best to do what feels right to you, now having said that, Ideally you would inhale through your nose, this is because the nasal cavity is designed to catch and filter the small things in the air we are breathing, this should be slow and fill all of your lungs as much as you can expanding all the way into the stomach. Pause, and exhale through your mouth until you have emptied your lungs as much as you can and then pause again before starting again. This kind of practice is best done 3 times per day for about 5-10 minutes, stating of with shorter intervals and if you start feeling light headed then stop straight away.