There are lots of folks out there who like to do all they can to manage their health without using medications. While for some, this may not be a reliable option, for others it can be very effective.
I like to provide people with information that they can take action on without the need for an appointment with a medical professional or access to specialized equipment or facilities. Finding ways that folks can take control "where they are" helps increase confidence and control in the journey of improvement after Stroke.
There are ways we can influence our nervous system to reduce “over active signals” that keep muscles "on" - contributing to the tightness of Spasticity. One way is with focused breathing. There is developing science that is showing reduction in spasticity with performance of Mindful Meditation. Mindfulness practices simply allow us to be fully present in the moment we are experiencing. Some mindful practices include breathing methods as well as guided imagery and even mindful eating, to name a few.
To help with spasticity, I encourage folks to begin a simple practice of breathing when they are noticing tightness. This is a simple, in the moment practice that can be very effective in reducing tightness (like when your arm tightens when you stand from a seated position).
One technique that is used to increase the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system is deep breathing. The parasympathetic nervous system is our "calming" nervous system (as opposed to our "fight or flight" nervous system). By increasing the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, you may be able to reduced your spasticity. Gaining an understanding of how to perform deep breathing can help yo be more effective with this technique when needed.
For this type of deep breathing, there is an emphasis on using the diaphragm on the inhalation- versus using the small, less effective muscles of the neck and shoulder area. The length of the inhale and the exhale are equal. I note that in the folks I work with who practice this, even just a bit, they are able to reduce the tightness and holding in the arms when they come to stand. And, it remains in a less bent position as they begin to walk. As we speak, larger studies are going on to look at how to standardize this practice and figure out the best times to use breathing/mindfulness to improve spasticity.
Breathing strategies are not the only thing that I encourage the stroke survivors I help to explore. But, being open to exploring what works for you, even if it is just a bit, can be beneficial in having greater control over your improvement process. You may find that there are 3-5 strategies that you can actively employ to decrease your spasticity. If you want to try out a 10 minute breath session- click the following link. https://youtu.be/LCytb9AOmRY If you are interested in joining in Thrive Online fitness and Wellness to access all sorts of exercise and fitness classes, just email me at Shannon@thrivestroke.com.