I breathe deeply and their muscles relax. Why?
July 16, 2012 6:47 AM Subscribe
Please explain the science behind this phenomenon. I want to know about the effect MY deep breathing has on the release of my clients' muscle tension. I have experienced and observed distinct differences between when I am deeply breathing, and when I default to shallow chest breathing. When I breathe deeply, their muscles release tension and relax, opening more and "melting" more to my work. It's quite remarkable.
posted by sleeping beauty to Science & Nature (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I experienced/observed this phenomenon most vividly in a Thai Massage training class. I was working on a very athletic woman. She was a mountain trail runner, and her legs were ridiculously strong. Her muscles were severely congested, super contracted even in a "relaxed" state.
She was lying supine, fully clothed, on the mat. I was sitting next to her on the floor, with legs outstretched in front of me, perpendicular to her. I used only the edge of my foot against her IT band, gently but firmly setting it into the muscle, and then resting and waiting to see it relax.
Our teacher noticed my shallow breathing and prompted me to relax and breathe more deeply. As I did, her thigh muscles began to do what I have seen many do before as they begin to release -- a twitch response. Part of the "unwinding" process.
The teacher walked away, and I thought I'd play a bit with this and held my breath. The unwinding stopped. Breathed deeply again and it began again.
What is this phenomenon? I assume it's physics, so all you science folks out there, do tell. Thanks.