Put simply, if you can influence and bring back control to your breathing, then you can help support your healing and recovery from injury or surgery.
At the end of this blog post is a breathing exercise. I use this exercise to support my clients recovering from surgery.
Your breathe is connected directly and indirectly to your emotions, your behaviour and all your bodily processes. Put simply, if you can influence and bring back control to your breathing, then you can help support your healing and recovery from injury or surgery. Recovery and healing processes occur optimally when our breathing rate is slow; when we are in a state of ‘rest and digest’ and our body can put it’s energy to the repair processes necessary. If you would like to read more about breathing and the body, here’s some consolidated research, and some more here. In this blog post, Im going to quickly explain the why’s, and then on to a simple breathing exercise that you can use anywhere.
What happens when we breathe faster and slower?
Here’s really simple explanation which doesn’t do the amazing complexities of our body any justice!! But that’s for another blog!! Our heart rate rises and falls with the rate of our breathing. A faster breathing rate leads to a faster heart rate and visa versa. When our body is reacting to a stressor (a stressor can be anything that the body deems as a threat or requires additional energy for, such as running, skydiving or work deadlines) our autonomic nervous system shifts to prepare us for action – our ‘flight or fight’ response. Internally the presence of the stressor causes a rise in heart rate and breathing rate, as well as a rise in action-taking hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. These internal actions ultimately prepare us to take action externally. When there isn’t a stressor and we have no need to be taking action, our autonomic nervous system slows down our breathing rate and heart rate, we move into our ‘rest and digest’ state.
Intentionally slowing our breathing down can help us to shift over to our ‘rest and digest’ response, supporting optimal healing.
Shifting to our parasympathetic response to support healing.
When ever there isn’t a ‘fight or flight’ inducing stressor present, our body shifts to the ‘rest and digest’ response; in order to recover, repair and prepare. Hence, when we have an injury or are recovering from surgery, we want to be in the ‘rest and digest’ response as much as possible. The issue occurs when we find ourselves overwhelmed by stressors or our body has trouble shifting over. Intentionally slowing our breathing down can help us to shift over to our ‘rest and digest’ response, supporting optimal healing.
Breathe yourself better: The ‘use anywhere’ simple breathing exercise.
Here is a really easy ‘use anywhere’ exercise to help you utilise the power of your breath to support your healing and recovery. Give it a go daily over the next week and let me know how you get on.
- Step 1: Breathe through your nose. Do as much of this exercise as you can breathing in and out through your nose.
- Step 2: Slow your breathing. In for 3, out for 3.
- Step 3: Quieten your breathing.
- Step 4: Slow your breathing further. In for 5, out for 5.