Thursday, 6 August 2020

Breathing during the time of Covid-19

Two interviews on the radio caught my attention this week. One was about a trial into providing singing classes with the ENO voice coaches for those experiencing chronic breathing problems after being seriously ill with C-19. Another was looking at the effect of stress on where we hold the tension in our body. In both cases the body tends to shift to overusing the accessory muscles for breathing, for instance the scalenes, sternocleidomastoid, pectorals and the abdominal muscles. This can cause a tense, braced posture with the shoulders coming in, and excessive neck tension. 

So, why singing lessons? A voice coach will help people to use the diaphragm; this is the muscle we use during passive breathing. The coach will also encourage people to move from just breathing into the upper part of the chest wall - a frequent stress response - to using the whole of the rib cage. I often notice with my clients who have very tight upper body muscles that they tend to gasp when asked to breath in, using great effort in the upper body muscles. Instead of this, the coaching encourages relaxed, deep, effective breathing. This relaxed style of breathing has another positive effect as it encourages letting go of the fight/flight/freeze stress response and moving into rest, digest and repair mode.

My blog post on 08/05/2020 includes two videos demonstrating breathing exercises.
There are also many online videos and articles by yoga, singing and breathing instructors. Let's all relax and breath easily.

Interesting massage article.

A colleague pointed me in the direction of this article and it is an interesting read. In particular, it addresses the now outdated concept that harder and deeper (painful!) is better. My own massage practice has shifted to concentrating more on the neural aspect of the treatment; the feedback to the nervous system from the massage treatment. This compliments the JEMS approach which is also very much about interacting with the nervous system. These days I think of massage as a conversation with the body; rather than charging in heavy handed, you ask nicely to be let in. The more relaxed the client is, the more effective the touch communication and hence the overall treatment.

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Vertical hip release (video)

This video explores how to relax the hips to allow a bit of bounce, to facilitate movement and absorb forces. As well as being important for sport this is also a great help in everyday life, from helping us to sit down through to walking down stairs and hills. 

This is a movement that I have to practice frequently as I lost it after I injured my knee; you may notice that at the beginning of the video I have a tendency to slide my hips forward rather than dropping downwards, and as the video progresses I am able to correct this.