This blog is based upon research on breathing that Dr. Erik Peper, Ph.D. began in the 1990s, This research helped identify dysfunctional breathing patterns that could contribute to illness. He developed coaching/teaching strategies with biofeedback to optimize breathing patterns, improve health and performance (Peper and Tibbetts, 1994; Peper, Martinez Aranda and Moss, 2015; Peper, Mason, and Huey, 2017).
For example, people with asthma were taught to reduce their reactivity to cigarette smoke and other airborne irritants (Peper and Tibbitts, 1992; Peper and Tibbetts, 2003). The participants first learned effortless slow diaphragmatic breathing and then were taught that the moment they would become aware of an airborne irritant such as cigarette smoke, they would hold their breath and relax their body. Then they moved away from the polluted air while exhaling very slowly through their nose and when the air was clearer they would inhale and continue effortless diaphragmatically breathing (Peper and Tibbetts, 1994). From this research Dr. Peper proposes that people may reduce exposure to the coronavirus by changing their breathing pattern; however the first step is prevention by following the recommended public health guidelines.
- Social distancing (physical distancing while continuing to offer social support)
- Washing your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds
- Not touching your face
- Cleaning surfaces which could have been touched by other such as door bell, door knobs, packages.
- Wearing a mask and gloves
Reduce your exposure to the virus when near other people by changing your breathing pattern
Normally when startled or surprised, we tend to gasp and inhale air rapidly. When someone sneezes, coughs or exhales near you, we often respond with a slight gasp and inhale their droplets. To reduce inhaling their droplets (which may contain the coronavirus virus), implement the following:
- When a person is getting too close
- Hold your breath with your mouth closed and relax your shoulders (just pause your breathing) as you move away from the person.
- Gently exhale through your nose (do not inhale before exhaling)-just exhale how little or much air you have
- When far enough away, gently inhale through your nose.
- Remember to relax and feel your shoulders drop when holding your breath. It will last for only a few seconds as you move away from the person. Exhale before inhaling through your nose.
- When a person coughs or sneezes
- Hold your breath, rotate you head away from the person and move away from them while exhaling though your nose.
- If you think the droplets of the sneeze or cough have landed on you or your clothing, go home, disrobe outside your house, and put your clothing into the washing machine. Take a shower and wash yourself with soap.
- When passing a person ahead of you or who is approaching you
- Inhale before they are too close and exhale through your nose as you are passing them.
- After you are more than 6 feet away gently inhale through your nose.
- When talking to people outside
- Stand so that the breeze/wind hits both people from the same side so that the exhaled droplets are blown away from both of you (down wind).
These breathing skills seem so simple; however, in our experience with people with asthma and other symptoms, it took practice, practice, and practice to change their automatic breathing patterns. The new pattern is pause (stop) the breath and then exhale through your nose. Remember, this breathing pattern is not forced and with practice it will occur effortlessly.
Finally, have a lot of fresh air in your house and work place (open your windows and doors)
The most recent research suggests that when you are exposed to a low concentration of the virus you usually develop a mild case of covid-19 as the body has time to activate its immune response. On the otherhand, if you are exposed to a very high concentration of the virus, the body becomes overwhelmed and does not have the time to activate its immune response. This observation may explain why some families many people became very sick after one person was infected. They are all close together and breathing the high virus density. This would also be true for some of the medical staff as the fresh air circulation in these building with closed windows is low. Dr. Peper's recommendation is to have as much fresh air circulating through your home and workplace to reduce the virus density.
The following blogs offer instructions for mastering effortless diaphragmatic breathing.
Note: We don't treat any named, un-named disease condition or illness. Our job is to help the body to function better. We make no claims about the article above -- but thought you would find it an interesting read.
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Always remember one of my mantras., "The more you know about how your body works, the better you can take care of yourself."
For more details about the natural approach I take with my patients, take a look at the book I wrote entitled: Reclaim Your Life; Your Guide To Revealing Your Body's Life-Changing Secrets For Renewed Health. It is available in my office or at Amazon and many other book outlets. If you found value in this article, please use the social sharing icons at the top of this post and please share with those you know who are still suffering with chronic health challenges, despite receiving medical management. Help me reach more people so they may regain their zest for living! Thank you!
ALL THE BEST – DR. KARL R.O.S. JOHNSON, DC – DIGGING DEEPER TO FIND SOLUTIONS
Peper, E. & Tibbetts, V. (1994). Effortless diaphragmatic breathing. Physical Therapy Products. 6(2), 67-71. Also in: Electromyography: Applications in Physical Therapy. Montreal: Thought Technology Ltd.
Special thanks to Dr. Erik Peper for giving permission to use his blog post; Can We Reduce Exposure to Coronavirus by Changing Breathing Behavior? as a guest blog on my website.