Did you know that skilful soft tissue manipulation, in many instances, can improve lung function and asthma symptoms.
When I studied Myotherapy at university I was studying musculoskeletal pain. You know, complaints that we know muscles and joints can cause like headache, back pain and tennis elbow.
In my early years of working I had some older patients who described to me how these old-school bodyworkers used to treat their asthma, infertility, period pain, reflux and so on. These old quacks were skilled at muscle and tendon manipulation. Same kind of game as me, they said.
Give me a break!
I dismissed it.
Once the 42 patient told me a story about bodyworkers fixing internal (visceral) symptoms, I thought ‘How hard can it be?’ So with a good knowledge of anatomy and palpation skills, an enquiring mind and some common sense, I started addressing such complaints, but on the side.
So for example when a patient was consulting me regarding a lower back problem and they complained about their asthma in passing, I would say ‘Do you want me to have a look at that?’ And I would trial a manipulation, wait, and see what they said next week.
In some cases they were so excited about the reduction in asthma symptoms they had forgotten about the lower back!
I was becoming convinced.
Asthma and breathing function.
On my little journey of discovery I found that in the case of asthma symptoms, the rectus abdominis (your central abdominal muscle) at its top end near insertion onto your ribs and sternum, commonly harboured myofascial restriction in asthma sufferers. When present, this restriction is palpable to a skilled practitioner and at the same time exquisitely tender. Manipulation here for literally seconds, when done correctly, will consistently result in obvious improvement in breathing just minutes later. This improvement typically lasts months and often years.
Fascinating. Myotherapy works in much the same way when treating chronic coughing or arthritic pain.
Manipulation here for literally seconds, when done correctly, will consistently result in obvious improvement in breathing just minutes later.
Science is yet to explain exactly how this works. All I know is that I can identify and resolve the restrictions in the offending muscles. I have heard therapists explain that they are really activating the underlying diaphragm. I have heard others explain the results with some hocus pocus, but the reality is we don’t know physiologically why it works. What I can say for certain is that the superficial structures (skin, fascia, muscle) are not entirely disconnected from the healthy function of the organs underneath. Even if science has not yet understood it, the function of the superficial and deeper tissues is interlinked.
What I can say is that patients are happy. So much so that they come back just for asthma relief and send their friends in too.
Asthma is a condition that appears to involve skeletal muscles everywhere. It is a fact that skeletal muscles in your neck, abdomen, intercostal muscles (between the ribs), lower back and spine are all involved in respiration. Is it that surprising that manipulating these muscles might reduce and often resolve breathing complaints?
Today I routinely treat asthma, breathing difficulties, infertility, bowel dysfunction, reflux and many more visceral complaints. If only more therapists and physicians would consider a simple myotherapy treatment or two before prescribing medications and complicated procedures. It would save the health industry millions if more of these common symptoms were solved quickly and cost effectively.
Well … at least you and your friends and family can save yourself time, money and reduce dependency on medications.
And that’s a good thing.
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