Promote Deeper and Easier Breathing
One of the telltale signs of anxiety and stress can be
constricted breathing. When the body starts to take shallow short
breaths instead of breathing at a natural pace, it is near
impossible for one to reach a relaxed state. Part of the problem is
that the muscles around the rib cage and abdomen may have
tightened, constricting air.
Massage plays an important role in training the body how to
relax and help improve breathing. Respiratory issues, such as
allergies, sinus problems, asthma and bronchitis, are one group of
conditions that can benefit from massage therapy. In fact, the
positive impact massage can have on respiratory function has been
shown through research, says Anne Williams, education program
director at Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals.
Many muscles in the front and back of the upper body are
accessory respiratory muscles, she explains. "When any of these
muscles are chronically tight and shortened, they can restrict
normal breathing and disrupt breathing patterns," she explains.
"Massage techniques to lengthen and relax these muscles improve
breathing capacity and function."
Massage therapy can not only improve breathing, but also posture.
This can lead to an opening of the chest area, as well as the
structural alignment and rib cage expansion needed for optimal lung
function, she adds. Plus, when the parasympathetic nervous system
responds to massage your breathing rate slows and becomes deep and
A particularly beneficial way of relieving respiratory issues
through massage therapy is tapotement, a rhythmic, percussive
stroke used in Swedish
massage. When performed on the back, along with vibration and
shaking, tapotement can loosen mucus in the lungs and increase
airway clearance for better lung function, Williams says.
Not only will massage therapy help relax muscles, it can also help
individuals become aware of their daily stress levels. Once the
body recognizes what true relaxation feels like, the mind can then
easily recreate it before stress becomes chronic and damaging. This
can also help you enjoy a more balanced life.
Benefits of Improving Breathing
- Controls breathing in an effort to aid relaxation
- Allows the mind to re-create relaxation before stress becomes
chronic or damaging
- Increases energy level