We are clearly having a very abnormal winter here in Northern Virginia this year. It went from 70-degree sun-filled days, down to 30 something just the other day. With March ( Yay, Spring!) right around the corner our bodies may feel a bit sluggish with all the last minute colds, coughs, and allergy symptoms making the rounds. The temperature shifts and fluctuations in allergen density can really take a toll on our immune systems and our histamine reactions. For those of you who are in fact suffering from respiratory congestion, pressure and soreness due to coughing, heaving, or sneezing…I may have a tip for you.
I know what you might be thinking…why on earth is a physical therapist talking about this? Well…..
Treatment known as “percussion” has been used by respiratory therapist, D.O.’s, physical therapists and other practitioners for decades. It consists of the patient undergoing repetitive blows to various parts of their rib cage, in a variety of positions in order to loosen any sticky ewy gooey mucus and funk that has adhered to various branches of your lung tissue.
This procedure is most commonly associated with people diagnosed with cystic fibrosis-as their very ability to breathe effectively depends on regular treatments. Cystic fibrosis in a tiny nut shell, is an inherited disease that causes accumulation of mucus in the lungs and sometimes the digestive track. By loosening the mucus/”funk”, you permit the body to get adequate oxygen into the lungs and ultimately to replenish your blood supply with O2…which pumps and flows throughout your body so you can move, groove, and boogie whenever you darn well please.
The reason I bring this up is that you may elect to have your physical therapist or respiratory therapist aid in symptom management to help you breathe better, and possibly heal faster. In states where there is direct access, just make an appointment with your local therapist and come on in. He/she will prop you in multiple funny positions to optimize the angle of your lungs and the branch of the lung being treated. They will “play the bongo’s” on your ribs and chest and then give you a little shake and shimmy through the area to loosen any mucus that is “too clingy”. No one likes clingy, right? You will then more than likely have to cough, and the goal is for that cough to be productive…get that funk out of you and into the trash where it belongs. You may feel a bit sore following treatment, as this is an active treatment. Your therapist may also opt to mobilize your ribs to help improve your breathing pattern & depth (expansion and compression).
This is a fabulous way to make your therapist part of your wellness and holistic health team as well as to invite the opportunity to discuss ongoing aches and pains with a specialist.
I’m always listening, so please ask about any topics you would like me to address.