” Your capacity to care for others is constrained by your capacity to care for yourself.”
~ Nick Wignall
nickwignal.com, The Friendly Mind
This post isn’t about bags, shoes, scarves, or jewellery.
Instead, we’ll focus on self-care, accessory breathing muscles, and hypertension.
Last week we unpacked the first half of the Full Body Breathing video.
Today we’ll link full-body breathing to the health of our digestive system, the integrity of our posture and muscular system, and even the elasticity of our blood vessels.
If breathing well piques your interest, consider joining its practical, how-to partner class – the Rapid Relief For Neck & Shoulders – this Saturday, April 29th.
So very many Satori subscribers have asked me this “how” question:
“But how exactly?
How do I put all this information about breathing into practice?
And how would I know that I am doing it right?”
Rapid Relief class is the answer to that question.
This class is a holistic, anatomy and exercise-science-informed rehab that will translate the new knowledge into body feels, stretches and moves, and take your body awareness and self-care skills to the next level.
Now to the mysterious connection between the legs and the diaphragm.
It’s pretty exciting!
1:37 – 1:53
Chapter 4 illustrates Psoas Major – the most prominent muscle in the hip flexor group.
Psoas major connects the thigh bones (the femurs) to the entire lumbar spine.
Psoas Major originates deep in the groin on the top femur – the thigh bone – then passes in front of the hip joint and attaches to the entire length of the lumbar spine. There is a mind-boggling number of attachments between the Psoas Major and the lumbar spine. I seem to remember 22 attachments on each side of the spine, but don’t quote me on that!
Watch this chapter carefully; you will see that Psoas Major interconnects with the “legs” of the diaphragm just below the rib cage. This means that the “legs” of the respiratory diaphragm are connected to the actual legs, which, in turn, means that our breath directly influences our hip health. Pretty neat, hey?
1:54 – 2:05
Chapter 5 shows you, in intimate detail, the connection between breathing, the digestive system, and layers of postural muscles on the back of the body.
Look at the loops and coils of the small and large intestines, being compressed and decompressed by the waves of breathing.
Notice the long muscles at the back of the body, lengthening and shortening to accommodate the changing shape of the torso. At this point, I am skipping the names – too much anatomy lingo can make one’s eyes glaze over…
2:06 – 2:44
This last chapter briefly examines some of the accessory breathing muscles.
They are called accessory because they are only supposed to turn on when the body needs more oxygen – for example when climbing a steep hill or having a panic attack.
The accessory breathing muscles include some of the neck and abdominal muscles. The video has a great visual of the accessory neck muscles working hard, of the whole abdominal wall stretching and condensing, and – of course! – of full-body breathing.
The Hypertension Connection
Disordered breathing patterns – such as using accessory breathing muscles instead of the diaphragm – often create restrictions in the movement of the diaphragm. This reduces the space in the chest that the lungs can expand into, and when the lung capacity is limited, less oxygen circulates with each breath.
Most people will compensate for this lack of oxygen by increasing their breaths per minute. It seems like no big deal, right? We got to do what we got to do.
Unfortunately, with the increased number of breaths we take, we lose too much carbon dioxide from the body.
Most of us know we need oxygen for survival, but carbon dioxide – CO2 – is just as crucial to our health and survival.
Carbon dioxide is the key element that helps the body to maintain the right mixture of acid and alkaline. Even the slightest change in the acid-alkaline balance can cause multiple changes in cell metabolism.
When the body loses too much CO2, the metabolism shifts towards alkaline.
This shift causes constriction in the arteries causing symptoms like cold hands and feet, headaches, lack of concentration, breathlessness, and yes – you guessed it – hypertension.
If all of this seems too far-fetched – What? Lower your blood pressure with better breathing? – check out POWERbreathe Plus. It is like a weight training tool for the diaphragm, making each breath slightly more challenging.
In October 2022, researchers at the Integrative Physiology of Aging Lab at the University of Colorado used a device similar to POWERbreathe Plus to investigate if it could help reduce the blood pressure of the experiment participants. The results were (not at all!) surprising – most participants lowered their blood pressure by using the device only 5 – 10 minutes a day.
On the other hand, yogis have been using sandbags for breathing for ages…!
Hey, my name is Julia
Living with chronic pain has taught me to look for solutions in unlikely places – places where most people see only problems.
Over the years I’ve gotten to be pretty good at this problem-solving and silver-lining finding thing.
So good that I felt compelled to share what I’ve learned and help others to find their sea legs while navigating, living, and winning their battle with chronic pain.