This blog will be two fold, first it will be a continuation of the last two on breathing; secondly, hopefully it will help answer a few questions about winter weather. This pertains mainly to us in the area of snowfall and cold weather. This winter that has encompassed the majority of the United States.
I will start with the cold weather aspect first. For those, and once again that seems to include most of the United States, we have had a couple bouts of Arctic Cold. Whether it is -5 degrees in Cleveland, OH or 20 degrees in Atlanta, GA, when that cold air hits us we have a tendency to hold our breath when we first walk out into it. There is also a tendency in the cold and icy weather to move differently. As we hold our breath our Shoulder Blade (Scapula) wings out, or it should if we are balanced properly. Well as you can see in the picture that would impede normal blood flow into our upper extremity and slow down the warming process, therefore exposing the arm and hands to get cold.
What is not shown in the picture is the nerves that run underneath this bony structure, but they too would become trapped and therefore produce numbness and a cold feeling. The cold feeling comes from the muscles being unable to properly work and they are the major heat producers.
In Muscle Release Therapy, MRTh® the first balancing technique taught is balancing the breathing movement chain or kinetics. As we inhale and the top of the pelvis moves inward as the rib cage extends, the shoulder blades move toward the shoulder joint. This permits the body or anatomical structure to open and allow the lungs to expand. When they do not we slow down the amount of oxygen that is taken into the system. Notice the next time you go out into winter weather, we hunch forward in our posture to protect ourselves from the weather conditions.
Now picture yourself, whether working on a computer, checking your smart phone messages, watching TV in your favorite chair and many other every day activities, how often our your shoulders slumped and rounded forward? Every time we do this we impede the breathing process and not only change the shoulder position but our abdominal (stomach) region and our pelvis.
As many already know my opinion of sit-ups and abdominal or core strengthening, this also impedes the true breathing process. Now I am not saying we should ignore this area, but sometimes the focus is too often their not truly understanding what complications it brings. Our true core goes from the inside part of the knees upward to our shoulder blade region, and this is what needs to be addressed. By over strengthening the proverbial six pack muscle you force the body into a stare of leaning forward just as you do in cold weather movement. This leads to back pain and other common complaints that are treated at our Wellness Center on a daily basis.
Your homework this week is to ensure that your shoulder blades move out when you inhale and in when you exhale, if not you need to get that balance reinstituted so that you are able to prevent everyday aches and pains. As you inhale many of us do not feel the pelvis move but we all can sense the upward movement of the upper rib cage and the sliding of our shoulder blades outward. Remember keep your jaw joints loose during this process, because believe it or not they too are tied into all of this. We will discuss the neck and skull in our next blog.
Just how does the shoulder blade move? First of all, there are many balancing muscles that are attached to it that direct its actual movement. Underneath it though is a layer of fat tissue that not only allows it too move but protects the structures that lie between the shoulder blade and rib cage. Many times in the elderly we see this fat pad missing and the rounded back and shoulders. This comes from many years of bad movement posture. Let's move into our golden years keeping the fat that we need.
Starting on February 13, 2014 I will be conducting online continuing education courses on our breathing structure, and although they are directed toward the professional therapist anyone will benefit from the information. The anatomy of each area will be discussed and how it truly functions. This information will help the lay person as well, in that it will help you not only exercise more efficiently but also perform daily activities easier.
My hope is that we understand the need for proper breathing and the importance of our movement posture. If you are experiencing chronic back pain or neck pain, give us call and the therapists and instructors will be happy to discuss your situation with you. Whether you come for Muscle Release Therapy, MRTh®, Pilates, Cranio-Sacral Therapy, or Acupuncture this is always one area that is initially addressed.
Thank you and stay warm, breath well and remember......There is always
A Reason to HOPE!