Vagus nerve support for digestion
This gentle exercise uses gateways, or touch points, to talk to the vagus nerve and to your gut health. Take one hand, cross it over your throat, and tuck it in the hollow space behind your ear (acupressure point Triple Warmer 17). Take the middle finger of the other hand and place it in your navel. Your touch pressure in both areas is very light. This hooks up the gut to the vagus nerve. Breathe in through the nose and out through the back of your throat to support the vagus nerve and digestive health. Take about 3-5 breathes; feel free to do it more if you have the time. Then switch your hands so that you connect the back of the ear on the opposite side and the belly button.
Shock and trauma relief
By Karen Bruno, PT
Shock is a condition that occurs when the body is not getting enough blood flow, oxygen, or nutrients to function properly. (1) Shock can be triggered by an intense physical and/or emotional response to trauma, an accident, violence, grief or upsetting news. (2) For proper function, the cells of the body need energy, oxygen, and glucose, so when a disruption occurs, many organs and systems in the body can be affected in a detrimental way. Many of the people who come to physical therapy have experienced shock and trauma at some time in their life. They may have managed to “move on” from the initial experience, their physical wounds may be healed, but their system may still be struggling with effects of the trauma, often unconsciously. Working with certain points in the body to restore balance can be a step in turning around this process.
Here are a few steps you can take to on your own to work with your shock points.
This is a basic self-help protocol to get you started. There is a more in-depth process that we can do as part of your physical therapy rehabilitation plan in our private Meditation Program. Speak to primary physical therapist to schedule a session in the Meditation Program Series if you feel you would benefit this.
Making peace with your nervous system
by Karen Bruno, PT
Sometimes we're looking for something easy and quick to help us regain balance during our busy day. Here is a quick vagus nerve-regulating exercise that can be done daily. It will help to:
By Karen Bruno, PT
Ever get queasy from a shot or the site of blood? Or experience something and feel like fainting? Sometimes, those feelings are due to the overstimulation of the vagus nerve. And on the other end, the vagus nerve can also initiate relaxation after stress. So it makes sense that when we’re in fight or flight mode, the vagus nerve comes into play.
Fun fact: the vagus nerve is responsible for our “gut feelings”.
So how can we use the vagus nerve to our benefit? Well, once we understand what it is, we can control it to breathe more easily, and control our heart rate when we’re in tense conversations or high-pressured situations at the office.
What is the Vagus Nerve?
The vagus nerve is part of our central nervous system, which is made up of our brain and spinal cord. The central nervous system communicates with the body and processes information. The vagus nerve, also known as the tenth cranial nerve, starts in the brainstem and travels into the neck, trunk and abdomen. Having extensive reach and influence, the vagus nerve is responsible for the functioning of our internal organs and processes such as:
In short, our vagus nerve has a central role in every aspect of our lives. Our well-being is dependent upon our ability to adapt and on our nervous system’s capacity to function properly. Vagus nerve exercises help us get out of the stress related fight, flight and freeze response and move us into a calmer state of rest, restore, relax and digest. So, whether you have pain, a bowel, bladder or sexual condition, an issue with digestion, anxiety, trauma, or any combination these, your vagus nerve could use a boost.
There are numerous ways to support optimal function of your vagus nerve. Here is a simple, 2-step exercise you can perform. This technique comes from Stanley Rosenberg’s "Accessing the Power of the Vagus Nerve, Self-Help for Anxiety, Depression, Trauma and Autism."
Step 1 - Place both hands behind your head, right at the bump behind your head.
Here are some practical application suggestions to use the simple vagus nerve exercise.
Practice it daily and as often as needed throughout the day.