How osteopathy strengthens your respiratory system and boosts your immunity
Updated: Aug 29, 2020
Original Article on the IMI website.
For people with respiratory conditions like asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia or reduced breathing from old injuries, the COVID-19 outbreak is understandably a big cause for concern. Having a respiratory condition does not mean a person is more likely to catch the virus. However, research shows that patients with breathing challenges are more likely to experience complications due to Covid-19 infection. Amid the global health pandemic, we’re all looking for proven ways to tackle existing health issues and strengthen our immune systems. To reduce respiratory symptoms and increase overall immunity, osteopathy is a scientifically proven treatment. A complementary therapy that can be used alongside conventional and naturopathic treatment, osteopathy is known to improve lung function and quality of breathing. How can an osteopathy help me with my respiratory conditions? Osteopathy uses a set of techniques aimed at manipulating the body back into its natural balance. One of the core philosophies of osteopathic medicine is the relationship between structure and function, which means that the structure of the body affects the functioning of various organs and body systems. Through gentle yet highly effective manual manipulation and mobilisation, an osteopath can re-establish the balance and motility of your bones, muscles, nerves and organs. This can help to release tensions and remove restrictions affecting your lungs, rib cage and breathing muscles. To reduce the load on your respiratory system, an osteopath may use a range of techniques that include spinal adjustment, joint mobilization, soft tissue release for muscles, blood drainage and decongestion manipulation. An osteopath can also examine your posture and determine other lifestyle factors, such as excess weight or a previous injury, that may be affecting your breathing capabilities. Taking every factor into consideration, your osteopath will create a tailored plan to bolster your respiratory health. I don’t have a diagnosed respiratory condition, but I do have breathing difficulties. How can an osteopath help? Skilled osteopaths focus on establishing the root cause of your health condition. According to IMI Osteopath Victor Bourdeau, former traumas, surgical intervention and particularly surgical scars can all restrict the balance and motility in your body and have a direct bearing on your breathing capabilities. “Something as remote as a former whiplash from a fall or collision may compromise a patient’s neck, inducing muscle spasms that can compress nerves which are crucial to the function of respiratory organs like the lungs and heart, or to muscles like the thoracic diaphragm that control breathing. Among these nerves is the vagus nerve that not only helps to connect the brain to the respiratory organs, but also to the organs of the digestive and immune system,” says Victor, who is adept at treating clients with health challenges seemingly disconnected to their respiratory issues. Victor says he often treats clients who are experiencing recurrent colds, infections and shallow breathing. Take Louise*, for example. After reviewing her detailed medical history, asking a series of questions and manually identifying any reactions to pain or density in her organs, Victor determined Louise’s breathing challenges and weakened immune system were the consequences of a former cervical spine injury compromising her vagus and phrenic nerves. After six weeks of osteopathic treatment, which included manipulation of the neck, release of the nerve pathway and a series of breathing exercises, Louise observed deeper breathing and a reduction in respiratory symptoms. How can an osteopath improve my overall immunity? There are three key ways an osteopath can enable your natural immunity to be at its strongest.
Osteopathy alleviates mechanical restrictions and promotes fluid circulation. Releasing the restrictions of mobility and tension in muscles, joints and connective tissues allows for a better flow of blood and lymph to circulate throughout the body. Boosting the lymphatic system helps to better regulate the body’s organ functions and strengthen its overall immunity.
Osteopathy can help to alleviate gut issues. Over 70% of your entire immune system resides in your gut. Your neck and vagus nerve control your digestive organs. If these are out of balance, your immune system becomes weaker. Osteopathy uses the techniques mentioned above to support the gut.
Osteopathy can help to alleviate mental and emotional stress. Stress, anxiety, fear and insomnia can trigger your sympathetic ‘fight or flight’ system. This weakens your immune system and triggers inflammation in the body. An osteopath can help to activate the parasympathetic ‘relaxation’ system.
What do I do next? Whether you have a pre-existing condition or you’d like an overall check-up, our osteopaths at IMI offer comprehensive assessment and treatment to heal and rebalance your whole system, moving you towards better health. To book an appointment call 2523 7121 or connect with us here. For a complete approach to immunity, we also suggest a consultation with an IMI naturopath. Our naturopaths can work with you to create a long-term tailored plan that may include immune-boosting dietary and lifestyle habit recommendations, personalised herbs and potent supplements. *Name changed to protect client confidentiality
Written by Victor Bourdeau DO, edited by Angela Kaur Baura