Coughs and Colds

Foam Rolling the Respiratory Muscles when recovering from Coughs and Colds

Winter is now in full swing in Melbourne, with the winter season also comes coughs and colds. Excessive coughing can lead to tightness in and sometimes injury to a group of muscles called our “Accessory Respiratory Muscles”. These muscles act on our rib cage to help us take deep or quick breaths as well as to cough. The Accessory Respiratory Muscles include our Pectoral muscles at the front of the chest and the Scalenes, Sternocleidomastoid (SCM) and Trapezius muscles which are at the front of the neck running between the collarbones and 1st ribs and the skull. Contraction of these muscles act on the upper chest causing it to rise, increasing the volume in the lungs, allowing more air to enter. The body automatically activates these muscles in reaction to a lack of oxygen intake, such as during heavy coughing.

At Holistic Bodyworks we are passionate about providing our patients with the knowledge and tools to aid in the healing process of any injury or illness. If you are in the throes of a cough or cold or recovering from one, the below stretches might be worth a try to help your body recover.

We’ve previously posted about the thoracic chest stretch, which is not only beneficial for upper back tightness but also rib cage movement. This post will also include a progression of the chest stretch, which helps to loosen the entire shoulder girdle and rib cage

Chest Stretch or Thoracic Stretch

A long 90cm foam roller is ideal for this stretch, if your roller is a shorter length, then place a cushion underneath your head to support your neck.

Throughout both of these stretches, focus on taking breaths down into your lower rib cage- expanding the rib cage outwards, rather than breathing up into your breast bone.

  • Sit down onto the end of your foam roller and then lay yourself ontop of it with the roller running lenthways underneath you from your tail bone to the back of your head.
  • Reach your arms out to the side in a scare crow position- you will experience a strong stretch through the front of the chest and perhaps into the arms.
  • Focus on taking deap breaths down into your lower ribcage and a sensation of heaviness through the hands- letting them sink to the floor.
  • Remain in this position taking deep belly breaths for 1-2 minutes.
  • This exercise should provide you with a stretch through the front of the chest and a feeling of extension through the upper back. It should not cause you pain of any kind.

Chest Stretch with Scissor arms

  • Remain lying on your foam roller
  • Keeping your elbows straight, reach your hands up to the ceiling with your palms facing each other.
  • Before moving your arms focus on letting your shoulder blades hang back over the foam roller- as if you are gently squeezing the roller with the shoulder blades.
  • Also ensure that throughout the movement your shoulders tuck down away from your ears- no hunching shoulders to ears!
  • Take a breath in, on your breath out reach your left hand back and above your head while your right hand reaches down towards your toes, keeping your elbows straight, on your next breath swap the arms.
  • Keep alternating the arm movement- scissoring them past each other, reaching towards the toes and above your head.
  • Repeat this movement 20-30 times.
  • You should experience a gentle massaging sensation around the back of the shoulders and stretching around the front. It should not cause pain of any kind.

For more helpful stretches or nutritional advice to overcome the dreaded coughs and colds, make an appointment with one our practitioners today!

Call (03) 9570 3388