When our sympathetic nervous system is revved up it initiates a flight or fight response, our heart and breathing rates go up, our digestive system slows down, and we get more blood to the muscles ready to run or fight. This is good if we are trying to escape from danger, but what happens if the perceived threat doesn’t go away?
We end up with chronic stress.
We know that sympathetic activity levels, the fight-flight response, increase with chronic stress, putting extra pressure on the immune system and inflammatory responses. When this happens, it can prolong or bring out that niggling back pain.
The muscles tightened up around the area and we end up with achy annoying pain that’s hard to get rid of. This can also affect our ribs and consequently our breathing.
You can either do this yourself or have someone else put their hands along the lower part of your rib cage just beside your elbow. Having someone else feel this gives you a reference point and the helper might feel if the rib motion isn’t symmetrical.
These findings can suggest muscle & joint restriction in the body due to stress.
Several ways Osteopaths encourage neck and ribcage mobility include manipulation & articulation, and rib raising & stretching of muscles between the ribs (intercostals). According to the evidence, this may decrease sympathetic activity and encourage the parasympathetic system which helps relax the body.
Working on the main breathing muscle the Diaphragm, has also been shown to improve rib cage movement and breathing during physical activity.
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