Balance both sides of the body for optimum health

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Our body's "zone" is where the diaphragm operates, bracing itself against the core below and keeping our airway open above.

To be healthy and pain-free, the right and left sides of our bodies must work harmoniously. When the two sides work well together, we can twist comfortably as we walk, while supporting our core and breathing.

Because our diaphragm is the only muscle that can never really "sleep" and its shape is what we control when we exhale, it plays a very dynamic role in the state of our overall health and well-being.

The total relaxation of the diaphragm is a de-stress switch. When we exhale, each side can take a relaxed shape and our brain has a chance to find calmness, either through a relaxed state while awake or during sleep. More relaxation equals a healthier, stronger body.

Unfortunately, the muscles, stress and habits create disharmony between our right and left halves.

So, where to start to balance our two sides?

Lying on our back with our hips and knees at 90 degrees to one another lets us isolate our core. Practice relaxing your back, shoulders and neck as you learn to exhale fully and hold the ribs (zone) down. Anchor this position with your abs creating a slight tuck.

Inhale with a closed mouth, exhale like you are blowing up a balloon, then pause two or three seconds. For some, this is harder than expected, so the ribs don't move and we "chest breathe." Inhale only part way, filling the ribs all around, and focus on the bottom half of your chest.

It takes time to release the tension and strengthen the postural muscles that keep us moving equally from side to side. A thorough exam will include looking up and down the muscle chains to see where you might need help: hips, shoulders, neck and jaw (TMJ). For many, this re-positioning can produce spontaneous healing of headache, muscle pain or discomfort.

Adding help from a trained manual therapist can make the healing process even faster. You can usually expect good results in about two weeks or less.

Both sides of your body need attention. If you've done the self-test just described and think you need some help getting your two sides balanced, find a trained Postural Restoration professional to evaluate and re-train you into optimal health.

Dr. Eric L. Bunge, DC FMS, is owner of Bunge Chiropractic Health Clinic in Bluffton. bungeclinic.com

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