“Calling For Breath” during your massage is one of the most important elements of getting a massage. We’re told from a young age to hold in our “gut” to help our posture and waistline appearance. Unfortunately, all this does is force us to breathe higher up into our necks and upper chest and places unnecessary strain on secondary respiratory muscles that support our neck and ribcage.
“Belly” breathing allows us to make use of the primary respiratory muscle, the diaphragm, to bring air into our lungs and tap into vital lung capacity. More oxygen enters our blood stream and secondary respiratory muscles such as the scalenes, sternocleidomastoid (SCM), and intercostals remain within capacity without strain. Bringing our breath down into our bellies helps with digestion; allowing movement within our abdominal cavity “massages” digestive and other abdominal organs, pumping fresh blood in and waste products out of the tissues. Abdominal breathing or “breath work” is taught in yoga, voice classes, and public speaking. Ask your therapist to work with you on calling breath work into your massage sessions and ask to be taught how to practice this art at home. Here are some starter points for you:
Lie your back with a soft pillow under your knees. Place the natural weight of your hands on your belly just below your belly button or put something soft like an eye pillow on your belly that will provide light resistance. Whatever you use has to be able to stay on your belly as you breathe and not fall off.
Relax. As you inhale, gently push your belly against your hands and “push” the object up. You may find it difficult to do at first because you have relied on your ribs and neck to do all the work up until now.
Inhalation: Chest rises while diaphragm drops.
Exhale slowly and let the belly go down. Try it again. Each time will get easier. Once you find it easy to do, try it sitting up. Now try it Standing.
Exhalation: Diaphragm and chest relax, allowing for gentle deflation
Notice what you are feeling at each stage. Do other muscles in your body tense up? Do they feel better or release? Let your therapist know what you notice. It could be a key to your treatment session or overall plan. How does this affect your massage session? Getting a more productive, deep breath helps with getting more oxygen to all the nooks and crannies of our body. As you practice breath work, you participate in helping your body become it’s own massage therapist, decreasing lymph congestion and trigger points, promote better oxygen and nutrient exchange, and reducing impact of daily stressors on your physical body!
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Hands On Health Massage Therapy And Wellness
7980 Chapel Hill Road, Ste 125
Cary NC 27513