Understandably over the last year there’s been a huge focus on the respiratory system and breathing in the media – everyone wants to breathe better. As part of this, many people are looking at breathwork and yogic practices as they can offer several benefits to some people… breathwork has even been covered on the popular daytime TV show ‘This Morning’, so is very much emerging as an up and coming wellness practice.
So is it something those with breathing pattern disorders should be practising?
I’m afraid the answer is a resounding no!
Let’s look a little more closely at exactly what breathwork is and why it isn’t suitable for many of the patients we see here at Air Physiotherapy.
What is breathwork?
Breathwork is simply controlled breathing. It involves using a group of breathing techniques, exercises and programmes to manipulate your breathing rate and depth. Most formal practices will involve anything from 20 minutes to an hour of sustained, rhythmic breathing techniques. The goal is to become much more aware of your breathing, which can lead to similar benefits that might be gained from meditation.
Advocates of breathwork claim that the benefits can include reducing stress and anxiety, reducing inflammation, symptoms of PTSD & attention deficit disorder and alkalizing your blood PH levels.
Why breathwork isn’t suitable for some people?
Whilst these breathwork techniques may be useful for many people, unfortunately they could prove problematic for some people.
- Those with unexplained breathlessness
- Those with a breathing pattern disorder
- Those with hyperventilation syndrome
- Those with long-term lung or heart conditions
We advise that these patients consult their doctor before beginning any new practices.
How can Air Physiotherapy help?
At Air Physiotherapy, we see many patients with breathing pattern disorders.
A breathing pattern disorder is when there is a disruption to the normal mechanics of breathing which leads to unfavourable symptoms. Unfortunately, breathwork will not help this and may actually exacerbate the problem by reinforcing a suboptimal breathing pattern (i.e. repetitive deep breaths).
To treat a breathing pattern disorder, it is essential to optimise the way you breathe. Specialists in this field, such as respiratory physiotherapists at Air Physiotherapy, can help by analysing your breathing pattern and prescribing the correct breathing exercises to retrain your breathing pattern.
Take a look at how you are breathing and ask yourself the following questions:
(you can watch our video on how to assess your breathing to help you)
- what muscles are being used?
- what is the depth of your breath like?
- what about the speed and the ratio of in:out?
- Are your breaths rhythmical?
If you think your breathing might be out of sync and one or more of the above points are affected, get in touch today and book your first appointment.
Find out more about what optimal breathing is here and do watch our video below on how to perform breathing control!