Welcome to Bill Gallagher's Blog. Click on a Title to view that entry by itself. I plan to bring together the best of what the web offers on the benefits and mechanisms underlying Meditation, Qigong, Yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates, Alexander and Feldenkrais. Your comments are always welcome.
Regimens: Tai Chi Shows Promise as a Stroke Therapy
Tai Chi's efficacy has been supported by a study published in the journal Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair. The study looked a 136 people who had chronic effects of stroke (cva) and taught half Tai Chi once a week for an hour and recommended practice at home about three hours a week. The other half performed exercise for a similar amount of time. The Tai Chi group improved in balance significantly more than the "exercise" group.
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Here is a link to a recent NPR story on breathwork and Alexander technique:
A few quibbles:
1) The segment states that we gasp (inhale quickly) when startled to increase oxygen supply.
"The quick inhale brings more oxygen in and sets off a flood of hormones that heighten our senses and help us respond quickly. "
Since most people are carrying 100% of the oxygen that their blood could carry, it seems more likely that we evolved this gasp response to put the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles in a longer & stronger position. Any martial artist would rather strike or be hit on an exhale because (among other reasons) the spine can be stabilized more effectively on an exhale than on an inhale.
2) Even with upper chest breathing, the diaphragm is involved in every breath (assuming the breather is neurologically intact).
"When the belly moves up and down during relaxed breathing it's a sign that the diaphragm is fully contracting and expanding."
The diaphragm can be fully contracting and expending with mimimal belly movement. Conversely, the belly can move in a way that works agains diaphragmatic movemnent. This reverse breathing pattern where the abdomen is pulled in during inhalation and pushed out during exhalation is common and inefficient.
3) For people without severe lung disease, improving breathing patterns has more of an impact on carbon dioxide levels (they go up) in the blood than oxygen levels, since oxygen saturation is pretty good for the typical person even if they have a breathing pattern disorder.
"If you're uptight and you're not taking a deep breath, you're not getting efficient oxygen exchange," says Alice Domar, a therapist and researcher on stress and women's health issues."
Breathing bigger and faster breaths tends to increase anxiety and muscle tension.
4) Here is a commonly stated rationale for "diaphragmatic breathing":
"The lowest third of our lungs have the most efficient oxygen exchange," says Domar. "So when you take a diaphragmatic breath your heart doesn't have to work so hard."
I see no reason to think that breathing with more movement low in the body increases aeration of the lower lobes of the lungs. Lots of good reasons to breathe "low and slow" but this is not one of them.....
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Over the past decade, I have working to redefine rehabilitation to include unconventional therapeutic techniques drawn from disciplines like Tai Chi Chuan, Yoga and Feldenkrais. Practitioners of these disciplines long ago realized the preventative and restorative benefits of mind-body practice and compelling scientific evidence mounts to support its use clinically.
The National Institutes of Health states “integrative medicine combines treatments from conventional medicine and CAM for which there is some high-quality evidence of safety and effectiveness.” Using the same framework, I study conventional and alternative practices, uses what works, and explore new synergies to improve function and reduce pain. Rather than focusing exclusively on disease and disability, I focus on healing—enhancing your ability to heal yourself. I emphasize the relationship between mind and body with regard to wellness. Concentrated on promoting health and the prevention of pain or disability, I neither reject conventional medicine nor accepts alternative medicine without serious evaluation.
In this blog I will offer reflection and insight on the integration of mind/body/spirit disciplines into my physical therapy practice (or is it my physical therapy practice into my mind/body/spirit disciplines?). Along the way I am bound to write about Tai Chi Chuan, Yoga, Relaxation techniques, Feldenkrais, Cognitive-behavioral training, Alexander technique, Biofeedback, Meditation, breath-work, Shiatsu, Guided Imagery/visualization, Tuina, Qigong, Acupressure & Osteopathy.
I will draw on my experience of providing integrative physical therapy, in a wide range of environments, to a broad spectrum of clients.
Many people assume complementary and Alternative approaches are backed by scanty or no experimental basis, yet there is an impressively broad and deep body of scientific literature supporting the practice of, for example, Tai Chi Chaun.
Feel free to make suggestions, comments or ask questions.
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