Happy Wednesday, everyone. This is Dr. Scott for the Redefining Physical Therapy podcast. I got some exciting news this episode.
I’m actually pretty excited to talk about this topic because I think it’s something that a lot of people just haven’t really said in regards to treatment, and it’s about breathing.
So there’s a lot of different camps out there that use their breath to make changes in clinical practice, and I think there is some value in changing someone’s, or trying to reduce someone’s sympathetic state by getting them to breathe diaphragmatically but here’s my beef with it.
So first off, let’s just start off, it’s a very hard sell to patients. So when your patients come in the door already, they’re probably not sold that you can help them, if they come in with lower back pain, knee pain, foot pain.
And if day one you’re starting to work on someone’s breath, they’re going to be like, “What the fuck?”
They’re going to be various skeptical.
They’re going to call you a voodoo witch doctor.
Unless you’ve got like this patient that is very in tune with their health.
They know a little bit more about their breath, then they’ll probably buy-in, but the chances are 95% of your patients that come in are not going to buy into any of that stuff.
I think we’re already in an uphill battle as doctors of physical therapy because we’ve done a very poor job of branding ourselves.
So when someone’s coming in and you’re going down that route, at least initially, you’re going to lose that patient.
They’re going to go somewhere else because they’re just not going to buy into how their breath is related to their foot pain, knee pain, or back pain.
So it’s a very hard sell.
The next thing I would say my beef with breathing is, and I would like to see some research on this, if any of you have it out there, I’m all ears.
I’m a skeptic.
As a former division one athlete myself and having gone through some of this stuff, yeah, you can maybe change someone’s breath in that moment in the clinic, but when they leave it’s going to go revert back to a subconscious state.
You shouldn’t have to think about your breathing. So it’s going to change based on your emotion, your stress, whether you’re exercising.
So at the end of the day, your breath is going to change to get as much oxygen or air as the lungs, so I just don’t think that you can change that long-term, especially in the different states that patients get into the day today.
So having them breathe in the clinic and blow into balloons and try to change their pelvic position, might work there at that moment, but when they leave that clinic, and they may feel some sort of form of anxiety, the breath’s going to change.
The same thing goes with exercising, their breath’s going to change.
I just think that when you think of athletics and sport and function, you shouldn’t have to think about how you’re breathing.
I think that then retards your motor system and your output, and you’re really, almost, I think, doing a disservice to your clients because then they have to think about the way that they breathe, and that just, again, when you’re doing a motor task, it should almost come subconsciously where you’re not thinking about anything.
So that’s what a lot of the great athletes get into is the state of flow, and they feel like they’re unstoppable. So you’re not going to think about your breath.
That’s just crazy, right?
Its same thing when I was playing football or any football player, if you have them on the D line thinking about their breath and getting a diaphragmatic breath before the ball is snapped, they’re going to get their butt whooped.
I guess at this stage it just doesn’t really make sense clinically, at least long-term, can you really make a change in someone’s breath?
So that’s my beef and that’s my wisdom today. Obviously, if you disagree, put your comments below.
But again, I think such a subconscious event, and I don’t think that you can change this long-term.
And secondly, I think it’s just such a hard sell and there are many other things that you can be working on or finding, impairment-wise, that are leading towards that patient’s dysfunction.
Unless they’ve come in looking just for that service of breathwork then have at it, but even then I’m skeptical, so I just don’t think that it works long-term.
I would like to see some of the data on that. And I would like to see, if you were to see your patient down the street and you see him in the grocery store, are they reverting back to that subconscious breath based on their emotional state or whether…
Does that translate when they’re exercising? So there you have it. Stop working on their breath and start finding some other things to work on.