How Chiropractic Care Can Help You to Breathe More Easily
Do you find yourself feeling short of breath, chronically fatigued, or foggy-headed? Your body may be experiencing difficulty acquiring and transporting oxygen throughout your body and extremities due to problems with breathing, a function of respiration which helps to supply vital nutrients and energy to your cells. Breathing problems are extremely common across the globe—fortunately, chiropractic care can help you to breathe more easily.
Over 35 million Americans suffer from chronic lung disease each year. This can include diseases like asthma, COPD, emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Countless additional people struggle with their breathing on a daily basis without ever receiving a medical diagnosis. This can be because of a single factor, like an undiagnosed condition or disease, or the result of a combination of factors: allergies and other environmental pollutants, body anatomy and weight, anxiety and digestive distress, and viral and bacterial infections that produce inflammation and an increased immune response can all contribute to impaired breathing.
Over time, some individuals may not realize that the quality of their breathing has decreased—instead, they may simply find that they are frequently exhausted or fatigued, are experiencing brain fog and forgetfulness, or realize that their physical performance (endurance, explosive energy, flexibility, etc.) is declining. In other cases, individuals may be aware that they suffer from impaired respiration, but feel that it is something that they simply have to live with. This may be due to a previous diagnosis, a known genetic or congenital condition, or simple adjustment to a baseline of health over time.
Three Reasons Why Optimal Breathing Is a Game Changer for Your Health
#1. Breathing improves the function of every body system.
The process of breathing is critical to the survival of the human body, making respiration an “all or nothing” type of process—sort of. It’s absolutely true that if you stop breathing, your body will not be able to maintain life, however, the quality of your breathing affects the ability of your body’s systems to carry out their normal tasks, as well as any unexpected developments that may arise during your day. In other words, you may be breathing enough to survive, but are you breathing enough to thrive?
An individual with excellent breathing quality will be able to quickly adapt to the sudden need to run. Their body will rapidly adjust as the oxygen intake capacity increases in proportion to the demand needed to carry out the physical activity. Additionally, all other body systems including the cardiovascular system, immune system, and muscular system will be directly reliant on the oxygen inspired by the respiratory system to produce the energy needed to respond to the movement at hand. But not all physical needs require running, and not all people possess excellent breathing quality—just the activities of sitting, standing, working (including in an office or other sedentary role) require optimal respiration, and the higher one’s quality of breathing is, the higher their performance will be in every task that they execute.
Other normal tasks that benefit from optimal breathing include digestion, elimination, sleep, the maintenance of heart rate and rhythm, cognitive activities like thinking and creating, protective immunity against viruses, bacteria, fungi, etc., and the regulation of the nervous system. When quality of breath is compromised, each of the body systems responsible for these tasks is also performing below ideal levels.
#2. Breathing dictates your mood.
In addition to maintaining your health, the quality of your breath also dictates your mood.
Measurements of the amygdala, an area of the brain which is thought to control survival responses (i.e., fight or flight), shows that changing the depth and quality of one’s breathing can actually trigger anxiety, fear, anger, and other emotions without consciously trying to do so.
Conversely, research suggests that deliberate attempts to deepen one’s breathing and increase the quality of respiration (i.e., in the context of breathwork or breathing meditation) also has a quantifiable effect on the mood, particularly in the prefrontal cortex which is associated with reasoning, problem solving, and creativity. When the quality of respiration is increased by deepening breathing, the mood elevates resulting in more ease, improved attention span, enhanced memory, and a higher likelihood of experiencing positive emotions.
#3. Breathing quality can change the quality of your life and affect your aging.
By affecting the efficiency of your body systems’ function, as well as influencing your mood, breathing quality can directly affect your quality of life. Quality of life can be assessed by asking the following questions: how do I feel most often, physically? How do I feel most often, emotionally? Do you feel equipped to handle the current and unforeseen challenges of your life?
The quality of your breathing is one of many highly influential factors in dictating the quality of your life, and the great news is—it can be improved through chiropractic care.
How Chiropractic Care Improves Breathing Quality
Whether you have a diagnosed breathing disorder, or you simply want to see how much you can boost your baseline level of breathing, chiropractic care can help.
Chiropractic care can increase the quality of your breathing in a few different ways:
#1. Chiropractic care decreases stagnation.
There are many modalities of treatment contained within chiropractic care, but most of them include some type of movement in the body. This movement may be of bones and joints, muscle and tissue, fascia, skin, ligaments, or tendons. Irrespective of where the movement in the body is taking place, one of the most dynamic and positive outcomes of chiropractic care is the release in stagnation that occurs.
By moving areas and layers of the body that may not receive frequent attention, or have been “stuck” in a certain position due to either posture, lifestyle, or injury, chiropractic care helps to break up stagnant areas and allow the release of toxins and cellular waste from those places. This provides significant support to the work of the respiratory system, which functions to deliver nutrients and oxygen across the body, and may have difficulty reaching areas that are blocked or stagnant.
#2. Chiropractic care increases circulation.
By the same mode of operation that chiropractic care decreases stagnation, chiropractic care also increases circulation. This occurs when areas that were previously stagnant are released, allowing new blood, lymphatic fluid, and oxygen to flood the areas that were previously not receiving the full capacity of attention from the body’s systems. These areas may occur anywhere in the body, in muscles (shoulder, neck, back), bones and joints (across the spine), tissues, ligaments, tendons, etc.
By receiving chiropractic care, which may be in the form of traction, adjustments, manual tissue manipulation, etc., circulation is increased even long after the session is complete, enhancing the supply of nutrients and oxygen from the lungs to the body.
#3. Chiropractic care helps realign the bones and joints.
Chiropractic care is best known for helping to realign bones and joints in the body—how does this relate to breathing and quality of breath?
When bones and joints are misaligned, they can create deficiencies in the processes carried out by various body systems. The more severe the misalignment, the more likely that the function of several body systems is impaired—particularly nerve function. Nerves in the body are responsible for communicating commands and needs, which may trigger the release of hormones and chemicals. When the communication across nerves is impaired by misalignment, breathing is also impaired.
The left and right phrenic nerves of the body are responsible for helping regulate activity of the diaphragm, which controls breathing. These nerves reside in the spinal column, and may not function properly when misalignment is present.
#4. Chiropractic care decreases pressure on the organs.
In severe cases of misalignment, bones may actually begin to compress organs in the body. This is most common in the case of scoliosis, which occurs when an unnatural s-shaped curvature manifests in the lateral spine.
In cases of severe scoliosis, the contortion of the spine can force the ribcage to alter its shape, collapsing it on one side of the lungs. This change, or changes in the lower portion of the spine near the diaphragm, can impede breathing function significantly.
#5. Chiropractic care regulates the nervous system.
Chiropractic care can help regulate the nervous system. When bones and joints are moved back toward optimal alignment, pinched, compressed, bruised or severed nerves can begin to heal. This restores the connection between areas of the nervous system and the extremities and torso, allowing the body’s nerve energy to be dispersed at full capacity once again.
Chiropractic care can also aid in regulating the nervous system by decreasing inflammation, eliminating pain, and enhancing cognitive function. When the nervous system is regulated, it produces signals to the respiratory system (which functions largely without conscious intervention) to create calm breathing patterns that give rise to calm patterns mirrored in the brain.
Ready to breathe more easily?
If you or someone you care about would love to support your breathing or enhance your breath and respiratory function, then an expert chiropractor can help support you.
Dr. Cynthia Boyd and Dr. Rachel Stohrer of the Oakland, California area are proud to offer cutting-edge chiropractic care to the East Bay area. If you’re ready to breathe more deeply and support your health and wellness, book your appointment today.