Academy West provides the most medically credible and reliably professional evaluation, education, and intervention for breathing mechanics available in the medical community. We help you to improve how you breathe in whatever capacity your body requires, whether for performance, improvement, or survival.
How we breathe matters?
YES! We often think of breathing as automatic, out of our conscious control. After all, we do it every day without thinking twice. However, breathing relies on an elaborate system of muscles and structures acting in coordination to accomplish multiple body tasks. When that system is working properly the human body breathes efficiently and effectively, all day every day. It only takes a small change in that system to throw everything off.
Consider your car. You start the engine each day and drive to work or play without considering the complex interaction of electrical and mechanical systems inside that allow you to reliably turn over the ignition. When one of those many parts fails, the system becomes less efficient and sometimes stops working entirely. Our breathing is quite similar in its complexity and sensitivity to subtle changes.
Unfortunately, there are many reasons why breathing might become problematic—medical, surgical, psychological, physical, and emotional.
The result is people with chronic pain, early fatigue, anxiety, decreased activity tolerance, reduced performance, poor endurance, incontinence, bowel dysfunction, and an overall decrease in quality of life. Things fall apart without us realizing that how we breathe may be to blame.
When you can't control your breathing, what can you actually control?
"The most important breath is the next one you take"
- Michael 'Bird' Shaffer
Who can benefit from improved breathing?
Any human who is motivated and curious
Typically-developed individuals of any age, as well as those with complicated anatomy, special circumstances, or unique needs
Athletes looking for the difference-making edge over their competition
Young competitors trying to take care of their developing bodies as they grow
Weekend-warriors frustrated by diminished performance related to aging
Those who experience a health care crisis and can't seem to fully recover
Musicians and singers trying to make their instrument more powerful and precise
How can physical therapy and training help?
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It’s no secret that your body’s production of power relies on effective respiration and control.
Proper use of the core muscles results in increased power production, and your "true core" muscles control your breathing. How much more powerful could you be?
Children born with genetic variations, those who acquire life-changing conditions, or those with atypical anatomy often sacrifice effective breathing mechanics to survive.
Training their breathing can often result in improved balance and mobility, GI motility, posture, control of gastric contents, and an overall functional improvement. Have you tried everything?
The muscles that power your instrument, whether voice, woodwind or brass are your most valuable asset.
Most musical teachers throw in a few breathing warm-ups but haven’t got time to focus on how you breathe. Can you afford to be less than completely effective and efficient with your breath control?
Breathing muscles are put through drastic changes and require focused attention. Core strength = breathing strength.
Unfortunately, in-depth breathing work is usually overlooked due in part to the complexity of women’s health and pelvic floor performance. A piece of paper or a quick demo tacked on to your treatment is rarely enough to make a difference. Your breathing is the motion that holds your entire core. Doesn't your "core" deserve focused attention?
Endurance is built on being efficient in your movement, not wasting anything.
Whether you're running, rowing, cycling, or of course swimming, if your breathing mechanics are not optimal, you are eventually going to fatigue, which results in accessory muscle use. These muscles cost you more energy and often result in pain and dysfunction down the road, like limping on a sore leg. The extra 3-5% improvement from enhanced breathing can be the difference. How much farther could you go?
Surgery and breathing are inseparable. Preparation and recovery are dependent on breathing effectively.
Pre-surgical patients benefit from training to be as ready as possible before the big days ahead. Simply put, patients with strong breathing and effective strategies for anxiety perform better when under stress. Post-surgery presents a different set of challenges to breathing including acute deconditioning, mechanical dysfunction due to scarring, and overall weakness. What is most difficult or worrisome for you?
The higher you climb the lower the oxygen level in the air making efficient breathing is vital
A stronger system for taking in air gives you an advantage, whether you’re training for an expedition or just wanting to beat your partner up the hill. Shouldn’t every part of your body be strong enough for your environment?
Biologically we feel how we breathe and breath how we feel. Learn how to use breathing as a tool to control how you feel.
Science tells us that the connection point between mind and body is the human breath. Controlling respiration has been proven to control heart rate, improve oxygenation, lower blood pressure, decrease the release of stress hormones, and even help you quit smoking. Are you using all your tools to cope with your anxiety?
Odd as it may seem, there is reliable data linking breathing muscles and balance.
Your diaphragm is constantly multi-tasking to keep you upright, moving, and alive. Even a strong person with a weak diaphragm will lose their balance before they lose their breath. Could your balance improve?
For adults and children who experience a healthcare crisis, getting back to your full function can be a lengthy and lonely challenge.
Improved breathing can often be the tipping point between "just getting by" and getting better. Chronic diseases like COPD and asthma, or body changes caused by trauma or neurologic injury all can devastate the same muscles that help you breathe long after the other parts of your body have improved. Are you thriving or just surviving?
As the old saying goes, father time is undefeated. Breathing can be used as a tool to combat gradual age-related changes.
At a certain point, we are all either getting stronger or getting weaker. A busy life can make those weekend warrior opportunities to get after it even more important. Every person who breathes can benefit from breathing more effectively and efficiently. What do you have to lose, and how much could you gain?
Neck, jaw, shoulder, back, abdominal, and pelvic pain almost always involve breathing dysfunction.
The diaphragm plays a tremendous role in postural support, and neck muscles are designed for movement, not breathing. Weakness and fatigue lead to patterns that cause pain. If your breathing were making your back or neck pain worse, would you know it?
Andy Sabatier, PT, DPT
Andy completed his doctorate in physical therapy in 2013 from New York University, clinical training at Stanford Hospital’s cardiac ICU, and extensive breathing education under Mary Massery DPT. He spent the next 7 years practicing in the ICU in Central Oregon helping thousands of patients to breathe and survive their most critical moments. Andy now works to bring that same "breathing first" approach to the greater community at Academy West.
© 2021 Academy West