The body has a wide range of functions that usually work automatically, without us ever needing to consider it. Respiratory function is a perfect example of this, and most in the downtown Vancouver area will never need to think about their breathing – it will go on unhindered throughout most of their life.
But when breathing problems arise, it can make a serious impact on our lives. Trouble breathing can be scary, and can have a tremendous impact on your overall health and wellbeing due to the simple fact that our ability to breathe influences everything from our brain function to our energy levels and beyond.
Depending upon the specific respiratory condition impacting your breathing, there are a number of different things that could be used to improve the problem. For those with swelling or mucus buildup in the airways, using a technique known as postural drainage might be needed.
Postural Drainage At A Glance
Postural drainage is exactly what its name suggests – the use of specific postures to help facilitate better fluid drainage out of the lungs and airways. By assuming certain positions you actually improve the way that the body expels the fluids and mucus and as a result can directly improve your breathing in the process.
Many people have performed postural drainage on themselves without even realizing it – if you’ve found that sitting upright in bed helps reduce cough and chest congestion, for example, you’ve engaged in a type of postural drainage on your own.
The specific type of position you’ll need to assume will vary depending upon the specific problem you’re experiencing, but more often than not alternating between a serious of three different positions will be the best solution. A medical professional such as a chiropractor like Dr. Stuart Kilian at Advantage Chiropractic can help you determine the specifics of your issue and as a result help you identify the right solutions for your problem.
Who Needs Postural Drainage?
Primarily, those who are suffering from serious illnesses like pneumonia or bronchitis as well as chronic health issues like cystic fibrosis or spinal cord injuries most commonly need the use of postural drainage due to their specific health issues. But anyone with a cold, chest congestion, or similar breathing troubles may find that they can benefit from the use of a postural drainage technique. The non-invasive nature of the procedure means that there is little risk to using it, but the benefits could be too large to ignore.
How Does Postural Drainage Work?
Mucus can collect in your lungs for a wide range of reasons. When this occurs, it can narrow the airways and make it harder to breathe. Additionally, it can increase the risk of lung infections like pneumonia.Postural drainage works by moving the body in such a way that mucus is more naturally drained out of the airways. It may also be combined with physiotherapy wherein a care provider claps the back or chest quickly in a rhythmic nature. This can break mucus free from the airway walls and help improve the amount of fluid that drains.
In most cases, postural drainage works best in the morning in order to clear built up mucus that accumulates during the night hours, though those who have trouble sleeping due to congestion and coughing may use it prior to bedtime as well.
The Main Positions And Procedures
As mentioned above, there are three key positions involved in postural drainage. These include:
- Sitting perfectly upright with the legs extended in front of your body.
- Lying face down with a pillow underneath the midsection to elevate it.
- Lying face up with the pillow underneath the middle of the back.
In each of these positions, a chiropractor or caregiver will cup the hand and clap the chest or back rhythmically over the lungs in order to loosen the mucus in the airways. It’s important to understand that this part of the process needs to be done properly in order to expel the mucus, otherwise damage to the spine could occur or the treatment may not be as effective as it should be.
Each position should be maintained for around 5 minutes or so, during which time you should breath in through the nose and out through the mouth. In general, breathing out should be done in a longer motion than breathing inwards.
Additionally, some medical professionals will use vibration instead of percussion to help break up the fluid. This may be done with a hand placed flat over the lungs and shaken gently back and forth to accomplish the job, but in recent years the use of mechanical vibrators has begun to grow in popularity due to its ability to break up the mucus more effectively.
No matter the process, it’s important to follow it precisely on a daily or two to three times daily basis. If you have specific health conditions or other considerations, additional or alternative positions may be used instead in order to avoid complicating health problems while continuing to improve drainage.
Postural drainage may also be used in combination with a wide range of other medical steps. Something like nasal massage or stimulation to help drain the sinuses, for example, can improve breathing even further.
Since many visit a chiropractor to receive instructions, guidance, or outright treatment with postural drainage, the time is often combined with traditional chiropractic adjustments, muscular stimulation, and more. These additional steps can help improve overall health and wellbeing even further, and may assist in developing better posture which in turn can improve overall respiratory health.
All in all, respiratory health is important to maintain and many are surprised to learn that simple procedures like postural drainage may have a direct impact on their ability to breathe. Even more are surprised to learn that chiropractors can have an impact on more aspects of your health than just your back pain. Seeing one could help you learn more about promoting better breathing as well as many other aspects of your overall health and wellbeing.