Bodywork for Lung Capacity

A breath is just a breath, no? Wrong! So much goes into breathing; in this video we look at a few of the structures involved. 

Rib cage: what you thought was mere skin and bone is really a 3 dimensional, malleable network engaging with different parts of the body simultaneously.

Some anatomy: intercostals, the muscles in between the ribs. These can be contracted (shortened, stuck) but can be coaxed back into plasticity. How, you ask? 

Nicely. Gently. With persuasion. Notice in the accompanying video I am not breaking my patient’s ribcage open but rather asking it with persistent but easy movement to relax and open. Just from this alone the patient will notice greater ease with breathing. 

But wait, there’s more! 

Underneath the ribcage is the diaphragm which is not that easy to access manually but can be treated indirectly by mobilizing the fascia (connective tissue) under the flare of the anterior (front) of the ribs and the fascia of the abdomen (including the linea alba which I reference in the video). Again, nice and easy. Don’t pulverize the thing.

So that’s underneath. Then there is above and below. Above we have the scalenes on the side of the neck, accessory muscles of respiration. Meaning, they help us breathe by pulling up on the top ribs as we inhale, thus expanding the rib cage. Who doesn’t have tight scalenes, I ask you. A lot of emotion can get stuck in these muscles so treat with care, more on that in an upcoming video on the Po.

So, to release the scalenes we coax open the supraclavicular fossa, or the large depression just above each collar bone. This technique is shown in the video, also note that part of this procedure includes gently rocking against the head of the humerus, or top of the upper arm bone, to open the chest cavity even more. This area is often tender and protected so check in.

Last but certainly not least is the quadratus lumborum, a set of muscles on either side of the lumbar (lower spine) in the low back. It orchestrates the movement of the pelvis and rib cage. Big job, often a key problem area. So using the same techniques of gentle persuasion you pull up on the muscle (towards you) and then push down on the abdomen, rocking this part of the body back and forth until you create space between the rib cage and hip bones. Push up and down and then alternate pulling the muscle away from the spine and back again. 

After each muscle, structure, or fascial plane is treated, observe the patient’s color, breathing, and general state of tension in their nervous system. You ought to see a large impact after each structure is released and a world of difference from the beginning of treatment. 

When in doubt, contact me for questions or tips if you need help with the techniques or want to know about some of the facets of treatment to which I alluded (treatment of anxiety, the po, wisdom of the body, emotion held in the body etc) It is my favorite thing to talk about. Really. 

I also offer ½ hour self treatment consultations which are sliding scale for all covid patients or those experiencing pandemic related anxiety. 

Take care of each other. R.M Brown LAc 

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