Inhalers are essential to managing asthma, but did you know, taking your reliever inhaler
more than two days a week, shows your asthma isn’t controlled.
Maybe the dose of your preventer is not right, or you’re not using your inhaler correctly.
Smoking cessation, keeping active and weight loss are also recommended in the NZ Asthma
What is often forgotten is HOW you are breathing. This isn’t doing some crazy technique
where you jump in the snow in your underwear, but learning to breathe well and adaptably,
all the time. Research shows that improving breathing in asthmatics reduces symptoms and
When we breathe, it should be silently through the nose and your upper belly should go
gently outwards. The breath out should be relaxed and twice as long as the breath in.
Asthmatics habitually try to get air in as easily as possible, leading to shallow mouth
breathing and a short exhale. This is how we breathe when stressed and makes asthma
Thinking about nose/belly breathing and a long-controlled exhale means the air you breathe
in is clean, warm and moist (that’s the nose’s job), that you are relaxed and there is plenty of
space to get the next breath in. Try humming, this helps keep the nose ready and active, it
also gives you a long exhale!
The better you breathe at rest, the harder it is for your asthma symptoms to take hold.
Your nose is your first line of defense to allergens, pollens, viruses and the cold air. As air
flows through your nose it goes to work filtering, warming and adding moisture to the air so
by the time it reaches your lungs it’s clean and at body temperature. The moisture ensures
the lungs function and can clear debris that does get through and inflate and function
The other amazing factor is the production of nitric oxide (NO) in our sinuses (laughing gas!).
It doesn’t make you giggle but its effects are widespread and definitely promote wellness.
NO works as a sterilizer (anti-fungal, antiviral and antibacterial), it promotes the beating of
cilia – the cells that work like a Mexican wave to move your mucus around, reducing snotty
noses and postnasal drip. It acts as a vasodilator (opens the blood vessels) and breathing
against the increased resistance of small breathing tubes (compared to the mouth) opens up
your air scass – this leads to an overall increase in the amount of oxygen you can absorb –
up to 17-20% than through your mouth! NO also has anti-inflammatory effects.
This is all missed when you breathe through your mouth! You are more likely to feel calmer
as you slow your breath down and tell your body it’s safe believe it or not breathing through
your nose also improves your memory!!
My favorite saying is it’s as silly to breathe through your mouth as it is to eat through your
nose. People often tell me they can’t get enough air through their nose – this can be due to
issues within your nasal structure and sinuses but often is actually due to chronic mouth
breathing. The disuse leads to nasal stuffiness and a sensation of being blocked, so you
continue to mouth breathe worsening the situation.
So….. tuck your chin in, close your lips, let your teeth sit slightly apart, your tongue floats to
the roof of your mouth so it’s creating a small amount of suction, and is docked behind the
top teeth. Breathe silently and feel your head, neck and shoulders relax and enjoy the calm
Written by Catherine George, The Lung Mechanic
Changes to the pelvic floor during birth.During a vaginal delivery, or attempted vaginal delivery, the muscles and nerves stretch significantly to allow the passage of the baby from the inside to the outside. The pelvic floor is designed to stretch to 250% of its resting length, much more stretch than any other muscle of the body. However, depending on the circumstances of the delivery, that stretch to the tissues may be temporary but sometimes if there is a greater degree of stretch, a longer duration of stretch or the need to use instruments such as forceps, the tissues may be injured and not be able to return to their predelivery state. Due to the constantly changing circumstances of each mother’s labour and delivery it is possible to injure other structures around the pelvis during vaginal deliveries such as the pelvic bones, the tailbone, the nerves and the tissues that hold the pelvic organs inside the body. For those who have a caesarean section delivery the pelvic floor has undergone the stress of the pregnancy. There may have been stress to the vaginal and pelvic floor tissues and muscles if a vaginal delivery was initially attempted, and then in order to access the baby for delivery the abdominal wall tissues and muscles are injured as they are cut to access the baby therefore also need time to heal and recover. We know the scar takes at least 3 months to heal to a reasonable strength when it can then start tolerating more stress and loading. Due to these significant effects on the structures around the pelvic floor and pelvis it is very important to allow time for these injured tissues to recover follow childbirth, and to rehabilitate them in a safe manner. Pelvic health physios can help to guide women in this recovery, as well as check if there has been injury to the pelvic floor muscles or other structures during childbirth. Allowing the appropriate time to recover and rehabilitate from the normal adaptions from pregnancy, childbirth and the potential injuries that may have occurred is beneficial to optimize recovery and to address any symptoms or difficulties women may be having in the 4th trimester, but also to reduce the risk of pelvic health problems later in life. Pelvic floor physical therapy has been proven to reduce the risk of pelvic organ prolapse, urinary, bowel, and sexual dysfunction and pelvic pain.
When to begin Pelvic Health Physiotherapy;It is highly recommended to start pelvic floor physiotherapy around 6 weeks following delivery. This is to screen for any potential injuries, and to help to guide recovery including exercise and return to sports and fitness whether your goal is circus performing, running 5km or 50km. Having said that, it is never too late to see a pelvic floor physio. Many pelvic health symptoms that occur after having children and are often thought to be a ‘normal’ consequence are in fact common but not normal. They are a sign of pelvic floor dysfunction and often respond very well to pelvic health physiotherapy. A good example of this is leaking when you cough, sneeze or jump on a trampoline- this is common but not normal!
Postpartum physio can also help with:
- Difficulty peeing or emptying the bladder, leakage of urine, and bladder urgency or frequency
- Constipation, difficulty with bowel movements, and leakage of bowels
- Painful sex, diminished or absent orgasm
- Separation of the abdominal muscles
- Restoring core function and strength of the abdominals and pelvic floor
- Pelvic floor and pelvic girdle, low back, and hip pain
- Caesarean section and episiotomy scar tissue and pain
- Pelvic organ prolapse prevention and/or treatment
- Eliminate pain from trauma to the pelvic floor and muscles
- Reduce pain from nerve damage in the pelvic and pelvic floor