Additional Information: Breathing


Breathing lessons are among the most powerful lessons I know for children with spasticity or a history of breathing or feeding problems. It can help to improve

  • swallowing
  • digestion
  • posture
  • free movement of the thoracic spine
  • tonus regulation
  • self-regulation via a calming effect on the autonomous nervous system

Holding mouth and nose closed and interrupting the airflow is counterintuitive. For sure a restriction of breathing is something we usually very much try to avoid - it is a reason for the nervous center to reject movements, and it is emotionally frightening.

But then being forced (by memories, trauma, and self-organization) to be on constant inhalation mode is very stressful for a body. It prevents deep, true inhalations (too much inhalation equals blowing into a balloon that is already full). It causes huge problems with swallowing and the digestive system, prevents the full inflation of the lungs (with a negative impact on posture), puts the vagal system under constant stress, and causes speech problems. So not being able to inhale for a moment might be the lesser evil for a nervous system.

Movements of the Diaphragm and Inner Organs

  • Breathing affects the agility of the spine (the ribs are closely interconnected with the vertebrae of the thoracic spine).
  • Breathing might prevent or support the movement.
  • The movement of the diaphragm massages our inner organs, like the heart, stomach, and colon.
  • These rhythmic movements help to push nutrition down. (especially if your child is struggling with reflux or digestive issues).

This video is only available on Facebook. It is an MRI of an abdomen during breathing.

Remember: all of these issues are constantly present while your child is moving! This is one of the reasons I keep stressing that a small, comfortable movement that enables breathing is more valuable than a big movement that might look right, but doesn`t take invisible factors into consideration.

Further Information: Swallowing and Breathing

We can either swallow or breathe, to do it simultaneously is impossible for good reason (asphyxiation). Children with breathing problems or children unable to lift their tongue to the upper palate often find this principle incomprehensible: they are caught in a constant attempt to inhale. At the same time, the whole nervous system is permanently under stress - the organism is constantly alarmed by saliva running towards the throat. The ability to stop the breath plays an important role in our self-organization.

Direct link to the video:

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