I went to a networking meeting in Lichfield run by 4Networking in January and I ended up sat on the table opposite this man who had sticks and some sort of difficulties with his body. So we got talking. I mentioned what I do Stress Management, Pain and Injury Management by looking at the body’s 2 top priorities breathing and movement via hip flexion. He introduced himself as Martin Warrillow, a writer and now a blogger and speaker about surviving a Stroke, that happened to him in December 2013, whilst crossing a road whilst a bus was coming towards him.
Martin was interested in what I did and so we arranged the 10 minute session with each other, you get 3 x10 minute sessions with people of your choosing after your 60 second introduction that everyone does. He expressed an interest in trying a treatment, he was still seeing a physiotherapist, that he was referred to by the hospital. However he knew his breathing was an issue and so was the ongoing left side weakness, his speech was good for someone whom not long ago suffered a stroke, although I do not know many people whom have suffered a stroke in person. So I emailed him once I got back as I would like to work with him using the activations to see if we could get the left side to be stronger and improve upon his breathing.
I knew cost was an issue, however I wanted to see if I could help him, so we came to an arrangement since he is a writer and journalist, that he shares his experiences about working with me and helps me with future press releases. And if he could cover my basic costs, as he had to pay to come to Derby from Tamworth by train and I would pick him up from Derby Station and take him up and back to Broomfield College, where the physio treatment room I use is and it was agreed upon.
First session with me, we went through history of injuries, most recent of course was the stroke, which whilst having a stroke and a seeing a bus come towards you whilst not being able to do anything has got to be a very traumatic experience. I also discovered he had suffered epileptic fits whilst in his sleep, his wife, Mrs Warrillow, would discover him fitting during his sleep in 2006 and was put on steroid medication to stop the fits. Martin was also born with Spina Bifida, which was removed as a baby.
Just before Martin’s Stroke, 2 weeks before, he was told his job as a National Naturist Magazine Editor was not going to be renewed which he loved for 3 years and 9 months, albeit working crazy stressful hours, the last 3 months ended up being really stressful. When his epilepsy started in 2006 there was also a lot of stress in his life at that moment in time.
From hearing my Be Activated teacher’s stories about one young lad, who had been activated by a family member but was still struggling to play basket ball, he was tall and this you would of thought be super easy for him, yet there was something not quite right, not been able to put your finger on it so to say. So one time Doug, my activation teacher, was staying with the family and he asked about the lad’s birth if any complications and his mother said he was born with a 6th little finger that got removed as a baby, not even the lad knew about this, and now many things just linked together in Doug’s mind and he worked on the lad with activations relating to the trauma of loosing that little finger that was apart of the lad and all of a sudden everything became easy to the lad, he could move and play so much better. Which is quite amazing so I wondered if this could be the case for my client Martin.
Why do I wonder if this is the case for Martin, well he has said he has struggled with his breathing even as a child, he isn’t asthmatic. Martin also struggles to carry his head on top of his shoulders always looking down, that condition was there as long as he can remember and the same with his left leg being turned out as he walks, which the stroke has quite possibly exaggerated these weaknesses in his body, however they were there before the stroke and by having the Spina Bifida removed could of created a trauma in his body to shut down and protect itself, which means the body will sacrifice to survive, so the left leg could of rotated at this point, due to the removal causing the Lateral system (lateral sling, frontal plane) and Posterior system (posterior chain, transverse/rotational plane) to break down.
During the first session I found the 123 pattern Martin’s body is running through the use of the muscle flexibility and resistance tests. 333 Left arm and 333 left leg. 333 left arm is doing area 1’s function the hip flexion of the right hip and really over working and fatiguing much quick due to the affect the stroke has on the body. 333 left leg is doing the left hip flexion. I described everything I was doing in simple terms and more body technical terms of the neural pathways between muscle and brain.
I went on going through the activations and re-testing the corresponding muscle I had activated, I only got to the quad activation on the first session. When I got Martin up of the couch and stood up, he felt a difference in his legs and then I got him walking up and down the corridor without his sticks. I felt I had not done much as I knew that his diaphragm was not yet activated fully, he still was struggling to get the breath into his belly naturally, however he was impressed with what happened and how his body felt to him compared to when he came in.
This was the email I received later on that day;
Thought you might like to know I have just walked all the way from Tamworth railway station to our house (about a ten-minute walk for a 'normal' person) without my sticks - the first time I've done that since my stroke. Let me know an address and I'll send you a cheque for today's treatment. And don't forget to send me some info I can use for my blog and a feature.
I was amazed by this, that he was feeling that confident to do that and during the time before I saw him again he told me he walked several times with Mrs Warrillow’s help for 10 minutes without his sticks again, which is amazing.
The second visit I managed to do all the activation points on him, still seeking the belly breath to happen through the activations and still only a slight improvement with a little more breath reaching his belly, but still happening in the chest first. When the diaphragm is functioning well and we are not in fight or flight state then we should breathe in to our belly first that way we are getting more oxygen into our lungs and then body. Chest breathing means we limit the oxygen intake to only a third or less that gets into our body.
Some of the activation points were holding, some areas there was room for improvement, but we nearly got his leg touching his head so not too shabby from that activation point. I did some release work on his left leg as this time I got him to take off the brace he wears, which to me seems to constrict his ankle and foot with compression but not really give any benefit to the ankle or foot function, just adding to the squished compressed appearance of the left foot, which was like that before the stroke and the turned out appearance has possibly been there since childhood, the brace was trying to help that out. As his lower left leg that is driving the hip flexion and unless the hip flexors are fired up to do their job the lower leg is going to keep doing that function until the correct communication between muscle and brain along the neural pathways is switched back on and this is what the activations do along with affecting the breath into the belly which is a sign of a parasympathetic drop - rest and recover high performing state, which is where we should function from most of the time in our life.
After all the activations I got him standing up and then walking to feel the difference in his body, up and down the corridor, this time telling Martin to go faster, he was walking a lot more straight and upright, feeling more confident, he came in with 2 sticks this time and I mentioned to him, I prefer people to walk with 2 sticks from when a person walks with one they tend to lean on it too much and stoop on it, which creates a further problem with their posture, with 2 sticks you can be more upright in posture, like nordic walking.
On the third session with me Martin was now just walking with one stick and walking a little quicker. I always start the session looking at how area 1 is functioning, if the hip flexors are firing, observing the breath and doing the 123 tests to see what area is in charge and Martin still is 333 left arm and 333 left leg. Going through the activation points again, looking to get the parasympathetic drop shown via the belly breath. This time I went and did some work on his jaw on the inside to release the muscles as they were very tight, which he told me he had discovered a new level of pain. I work lightly, if I work too hard with the points I loose feel and effectiveness on the body. I opened him up to his own pain, the pain is yours that has been numbed out, forgotten it yet it still exists, which is shown when I go into these seemingly vulnerable areas. When I finish and re-test the muscles to show the effect of them being activated and ask how you feel after as during some are very good at letting me know I have the right point. Afterwards you know it is worth going through that suffering as things shift, release and start to function as they can.
A little more breath was happening in the belly, still chest first however more breath into the belly once again. This time when walking up and down the corridor I got him to go much faster in his walk, Martin was much straighter and upright, no wobble. Martin was now becoming much more aware of his body and feeling more through the activations and gaining more confidence in what his body could now do. I still knew there was still further improvement to come if I could get that big belly breath, as I knew there had to be a trigger for it, an emotional one.
On the Fourth session, Martin was walking much better with one stick. This time I went for the diaphragm activation point and I had Martin place himself mentally in the position of when he was having his stroke, with the bus coming towards him and not being able to do anything from the effects of the stroke taking over his body, whilst I focused on the diaphragm activation point and then it happened… the big belly breath. His area 1 then fired after the activations and area 2 and 3, he felt much more discomfort from the activations than ever before as he started to open up to feeling more in his body and also when we going into a place of stress then it can feel much more overwhelming and painful in the body.
When I got him to stand up and walk Martin mentioned his left leg felt normal like his right leg, that was good, no amazing, as the body was now getting it’s priorities met of the breath into the belly and area 1 hip flexion happening from the psoas (hip flexors).
So I tested the walking with him again, up and down the corridor, shouting faster, faster, come on faster, Martin was walking at a decent pace and straight, so I commanded faster he said ‘if I go any faster I will be running.’ So I said well run then, so he did up and down the corridor 6 times in total, with a brief pause as he mentioned his left ankle felt vulnerable and a tweak happened, so I stopped and activated him on some points and then got him to run again and he was good again. I then got him in the Butt Bunji to see how he would be and feel in it, as this is a great tool to feel and get the butt working.
Now Martin mentioned he wanted to do a sponsored run in the summer of 5K at the very first session or even cycle, which he thought was a pipe dream but he was aiming to do it, he just got a little closer to being able to make it happen easily.
Martin mentioned the Tamworth Herald was doing an article on him, which he was including me in and the Derby Telegraph was doing an article also. A Derby Telegraph photographer was supposed to of been booked for session 5, however they never showed up, which did not help Martin out whilst I was working on him. It seems to of been a miss communication with the editor forgetting to confirm and book the photographer for that day.
Session 5. I had the visual fields in mind to do with Martin, however he wanted me to take a closer look at his left shoulder that was in pain. The left arm is the one driving his right hip flexion. So I did the 123 pattern checks and area 1 the posts was not firing again…. hmm…. I don’t know maybe other things happening here. Breathing has improved massively a lot more belly breath, looks much easier when I am observing Martin lying on the table. So whilst waiting the photographer I went through the whole activation sequence with him to see if anything shifted, we got a better range but still pain. So I put his arm in overhead extension and then activating the lats/piriformis point, rotation and shoulder mobility points, superspinatus points also massaging tight areas on the left arm. I would then move his arm back to his side and overhead, and his arm would tense up as I moved it, constantly fighting to be relaxed, so I got Martin to focus on keeping the arm relaxed when I moved it, as soon as he fought the pain happened, when he relaxed and let me move the arm, much more movement and less painful. So there is something going on that means the arm still over works and fights when being moved overhead in extension or round the body to reach behind as if getting something out a cupboard low down, which was how he aggravated the left shoulder.
When I sat Martin up and got him to move the arm how he would when the pain triggered, there was a massive increase in the range, still some discomfort. When I got him to walk up and down the corridor this time we focused on getting the left arm to relax whilst walking, shaking his arm and fingers quickly, re-training them to stay switched off instead of tense up and constantly over work whilst he walks, hand goes into a tight fist or he carries something in the left so it can stay tight and drive the right hip flexion.
Martin was walking up and down without his glasses on, which was different, as I do make him move through the door which I hold open. Walking much straighter and upright, head still forward of being sat on top of his shoulders, could be a visual field issue. So just shaking the fingers whilst having balance when walking fast was enough of a challenge for that day. This time he did not wear his ankle brace as he was feeling it was not giving him any benefit , as I get him to walk barefoot up and down the corridor, so it is never on when I do that.
So we go to drop our passes off at Broomfield reception with the lovely, welcoming and knowledgable Vicky, Martin was keeping pace with me, easily and when leaving reception he held the door for me and he commented on it shortly after. He just did it automatically, now this was something major in my opinion, as his body language prior would be help me I don’t have the strength nor balance and I need someone to open it for me, which came from him suffering a stroke and the mental and physical issues that occured from that experience, as some of the doors in Broomfield look challenging, they are not, just appears so as they are large glass doors.
I just love seeing the immediate changes in Martin when I work with him, how he would avoid opening doors, wobble walk slowly with 2 sticks to an confident door opener, carrying one stick - just incase, whilst walking quite fast next to me. Sometimes we forget it can be the little things that can have a big impact on our lives.
I know there is more to happen with Martin, to see what could possibly happen with the visual field activations and if I can help release the trauma from his Spina Bifida and from discovering more about his conditions from his blog, he suffers with hydrocephalus which the more I think and feel about things all relates back to the trauma of removing the Spina Bifida as a baby, I could be wrong however this article popped up the other day which shows the effects of stress suffered in childhood affects the rest of our life www.iflscience.com/brainchildhood-trauma-alters-neural-responses-stress
In session 6 we will hopefully have the Derby Telegraph Photographer with us, which will add to the mix of things being interesting and quite likely more pain for Martin, however he is up for whatever is to come with all the massive improvements his body has had already by me helping it to meet it’s 2 main priorities of breathing and movement. In session 5 Martin mentioned he learned to hold his breath as a child from traumatic experiences and would pass out from it, which I was seeing a similar pattern on when I activated certain areas we would get the breathing into the belly something good happening, then when I stopped activating on a point and watched his breathing he would take a breath and hold, I would patiently wait to see when he would breathe again. Breath holding can because we don’t want to let go of something, we would rather suffer and even make a choice to die rather than live, as we most likely at an early age been taught it is a good thing to cause suffering to ourselves as then we are loved. Just a theory of mine.
So Last Friday morning I was out with 2 friends doing some MovNat playing up in Belper, hanging around on the goal posts, balancing and jumping in the woods, climbing through the trees at low height, as I still not released my fear of heights.
One way was easier to climbing through from tree to tree, so we decided to experiment going the other way, my friend Becky was successful, although she is good at climbing trees, my turn................
So I got to the bigger gap where the opposite way you can grab on to the short dead branch to help lever yourself into the tree, but I was only using one hand and short amount of time with weight on it..................
So I had one hand on it trying to get across the gap to the next tree, so I decide to put to hands on it to swing across, with Becky going "I don't think it will hold your weight Em" I either said out loud it will be okay or I was thinking it in my arrogance...........
Next thing a loud crack............... and I knew I was making my way to the ground, full of holly leaves that were pricking me earlier, that wasn't my thought, my thought was as I was falling which part of me is going to hit the earth 1st, which part is going to hurt the most! That second seemed to take along time!
So my butt hit the ground 1st followed by my shoulders, with my head hitting rather lightly compared to the butt and shoulders.................
So my hands went on autopilot activations, from the start the diaphragm to the end before I even moved as I knew my body was in shock and pain, which I only felt when I got up, I made sure I had some belly breaths beforehand and I got up slowly and I could feel the sacrum into my butt complaining and my left shoulder.
On getting into the car and driving home I knew more activations were required over again with sensations that were coming up............... getting out of the car opening the gate was sure interesting and plenty of neural pain sensations going on in the buttasna............. getting back in the car the same to drive down the yard to park it............
So I sat in the car and activated whilst my visual field was under stress to shift that impairment that was causing more stress on the body from the accident, which made getting out the car easier.
I was going out to Derby Climbing Unit that evening so I wanted to be able to move better for that and myself........... so I spent all afternoon moving into positions that caused me pain and activated, which was painful through the whole sequence every time I found a new painful movement, but knew it was working.
I walked my dog and found I was better for moving so I definitely went out to watch the bouldering competition at the climbing unit, taking my carob and banana smoothie for dinner. By being out and moving and staying upright definitely helped things shift, as I was concentrating on the climbers and the moves they were doing, some were amazed that I was mobile from the fact I said I fell that morning!
I am mobile and still healing 2 days later, but most of the neural pain in the butt has shifted only on some movements it still goes off, shoulder is so much better and the simple fact is it is down to the activations that Doug Heel, Be Activated, taught me and softening to the pain ( I am still learning to do!) instead of running from the pain, I breathe into it with deep belly breaths.
So for any injury that has happened I highly recommend to get doing your activations if you have been seen by me, it will drop your body into the healing state instead of the stressed state. I have no bruising, it was a heavy impact and no swelling all thanks to doing the activations.
I didn't realise that one day I would be rescuing my own ass with the activations, but sure am glad it's on autopilot! Lesson learned in that situation! ;)
Breathing is something that we do naturally right?
~ Yes and no.
We shouldn't be taught how to breathe right?
~ Yes and no.
Why are there so many different techniques and methods of how we should be breathing out there, surely there is only one way to breathe?
Well here is my experience and view point on breathing and the points above ;~
Well I used to struggle with breathing when running in the army, yeah you could say I was unfit, yet there were times I was fit, super fit, and yet my breathing was still poor! (And my running technique was poor too, more about that another time!) So surely if your fit your breathing should be good, erm ............. turns out it can be a big NO!
So I found pilates and got taught how to breathe for the movements, in through the nose into the belly, exhaling through mouth as belly button and spine get closer to each other and was I breathing any better, turns out not really!
I then started Astanga Yoga classes and doing the "trying to hold the bandhas" which mainly consist of ;-
" the Mūla Bandha, or root lock, is performed by tightening the muscles around the pelvic and perineum area. The Uḍḍīyāna Bandha, often described as bringing the navel to the base of the spine, is a contraction of the muscles of the lower abdominal area – this bandha is considered the most important bandha as it supports our breathing and encourages the development of strong core muscles." ~ From wiki.
So now with yoga when doing the postures, I should be holding me whatever and whatever it is called as the teacher says! Forget that! It blooming well lets go soon as I move, oh apart from the contraction of the belly inwards as I learned per pilates, as it is good for me it makes me stronger in the postures working my core, by holding my core supports me.
Still doing pilates and yoga, I discovered Transformational Breathing Technique. I went for a couple of sessions and then I went on 3 of the weekend courses. I got some release through the breath and taught myself with the aid of what is taught on the course to breathe into the belly first. So great I can now breathe into my belly easier, but I have to do this consciously with effort cos the truth is my body still does not want to start the breath from down there, I am fighting with my body and what I have already taught it is so much easier. So now I consciously practice transformational breathing technique often as I can to help my body become better, make my mind quiet (which it never does and I keep hoping it will!) and heal any emotional issues through breathing. So now I think I know more about how we should breathe and that is without any pauses, connectedley, so I apply this into yoga and pilates as I become more and more aware of how I am breathing and when I realise I am holding my breath!
I then go to a Divine Truth talk by AJ (Jesus) and Mary and I go up and ask a question about the fact I feel like I am heavily influenced by a spirit but no one else can see it or think I have one in the woo woo spiritual healing world and it is stopping me progress with the Divine Love Path. So Jesus goes yup I can see her and yes she influencing you, sudden realisations hit and a few more questions about my grandad and Jesus tells me just to breathe from belly it will help you connect to your feelings and release. Yay, so I am on the right track I know how to do that breathe into my belly, ok lets, oh bugger it isn't so easy............. but I trained myself to do it, just practice it will get easier I say to myself! (Also it is what I have said to others in my class too!)
So earlier this year (2013) I discover Douglas Heel with his Be Activated technique and attend the course to be a practitioner in it. So breathing is the first thing we work on, I proudly say I teach others how to breathe correctly through what I have learned, only for Doug to pull apart how pilates teachers breathe and that they teach breathing that causes the body to malfunction further than it already is! That got me curious, as I already felt something was wrong with my pilates practice as I was suffering with neck issuesand shoulder issues big time!
So basically holding this core and breathing the way taught in pilates further disengages the diaphragm than it already is functioning and causes you to breath laterally collaterally and hypercondriacally under the clavical (hyper-under, condria -rib cartilage.)
So Doug demonstrates how to activate the diaphragm and then with our course partner we get to have a go and ........ hmmmmm......something still did not feel right, it did not feel as easily as it looked when Doug demonstrated! So I go up and say I am still cheat breathing I have trained myself through transformational breathing to belly breath but it is an effort, and I am still doing that instead of it being naturally easy! So Doug gets me on the couch and then works on me and bam he finds the spot, getting me to hold my breath whilst he works on me, so I am holding on to my breath and listening to his instructions determined to hold it for as long as he tells me too, then I no longer can hold my breath in I gasp for air, Woohaha wait a minute oh my belly just relaxed and took the breath in naturally and easily. Oh wait wait wait Oh WOW , seriously this is amazing the first time my mind has shut up in ever, no trying it just went quiet, seriously now that is amazing for me everything else I have done has never ever got my mind/thoughts to shut up before and me relaxed, now this is just beautiful! So Oh WOW so this is what it feels like effortless breathing with the diaphragm working and the mind quiet, this is so much easier than all the other stuff I have learned, it is that simple to get the diaphragm to work and the belly to do the breathing first.
The diaphragm activation works by getting the electrical connections to fire up from the diaphragm to the brain to talk correctly through the neural pathways. I discovered after the course by continuing with pilates and the re-attending Doug's course again, that I had an ephiphany that I had not improved as much as I thought I had, ok my pilates teacher had noticed that my body and posture was looking so much better with me using the Be Activated techniques most days, but it was the fact whilst doing pilates I would have to keep re-activating points that were not holding, which means in my world something in pilates is not giving me benefit as the activations should hold and get improvements with the right movements, whereas yoga there was improvement in range so in my mind something was definately not right, but surely pilates is good for the body , well as I mentioned earlier before I met Doug I was getting neck issues and shoulder issues a lot! Due to what I learned from pilates sessions I started to see there was a pattern it taught me to do with my muscles that I was still trying to apply that instead of what I learned on the Be Activated courses, but when you spent 6 1/2 years of learning to do this and that with your core I knew that by doing the static work on equipment was not giving me any benefit like it used too! As I now know it was not just down to pilates but also the fact I spent most my day sat down on my bed infront of my laptop, which sitting down also starts to shut down your diaphragm, so I got one of my banana boxes and had my laptop on that and then knelt instead with my head looking up towards the screen, which stopped me from slouching into my diaphragm.
So back to the questions at the top
Breathing is something that we do naturally right?
We get taught by our environment in childhood that certain emotions are ok and others aren't and in that we learn to hold those emotions in and start to create various forms of breathing patterns that restrict the amount of lung and diaphragm function we have, nevermind being sat down most of the day at school in a slouched chair position that starts to shut down your diaphragm function further. So we still have to breathe or we will die so our body creates ways of doing so which are supposed to be short term fixes however due to our environments they end up being long term issues!
We shouldn't be taught how to breathe right?
If we have a poor functioning diaphragm then yes we should be taught to breathe, but by the the Be Activated method of activating the diaphragm. Well that is the only method I have found to get the diaphragm working quickly and easily and as it should do naturally! Whereas the way I was taught breathing in pilates and yoga are counter intuitive to doing the actual easy belly breathing, which happens when your diaphragm is activated, as they are further training you to breath wrong by holding certain muscles when your body is already in a state of poor functioning and your muscles don't know how to do their own function it creates more patterns to unravel all the time that cause us problems in our bodies in the long run. So now in yoga I don't do the breathing and holding the bandhas I use what I got taught on Doug's course which works so much better for me in the moves.
Why are there so many different techniques and methods of how we should be breathing out there, surely there is only one way to breathe?
There are so many different techniques due to there are so many who all think differently to each other and think they have the right answer.
For me there is one primary correct way to breathe and that is the breath first goes down into the belly and then fills up the chest, as when this happens easily it means the diaphragm is contracting, drawing down into the abdomen, which is then pulling air into thew lungs to be filled up and on exhalation the diaphragm relaxes and the lungs deflate. If we are just chest breathing, laterally, collaterally and hypercondriacally we are always hyper-ventilating and our diaphragm doesn't get to contract downwards we are constantly drawing it upwards which tightens and makes it much harder to draw the air we need in, so we start to use other muscles in our back, thoracic and shoulders to try and get the air into our lungs which there is not much space for as we can not get the diaphragm to contract as it should, which in long term causes many lung diseases and also heart problems due to the tightened myofascial tissue around the diaphragm, as the heart is directly affected by the motion of the diaphragm.
Different breathing exercises can be of use to improve the bodies function in certain exercises, however pilates breathing technique makes your shoulders and neck think they are the abdominal muscles and never lets the diaphragm function correctly due to "holding in the core!"
Also when you are trying to get to sleep with an activated diaphragm, that lets you breathe with ease, your mind just quietens with several deep belly breaths and you drift of with ease, no matter what sort of day you have had! I much prefer doing that than counting to breathe in and then hold and then breathe out, why? ~ due to I have been so naturally unconsciously good at holding my breath, especially hanging on at the diaphragm area with tightness and that sort of breath use to encourage tension and avoidance of emotions, where as I much prefer relaxation and connection to being able to feel my emotions more clearly.
However from previous experiences do I know everything about the way we breathe?
Far from it, I have a technique that frees up the diaphragm easily for most people, but I am willing to keep learning and say I don't know what to do if it doesn't work, which might mean I can then go searching for more possible answers to the don't knows. I keep learning and growing keeping some tools that I have learned and others I am leaving well behind me.
Just my musings.....