Biofeedback – how it works:
If you have ever had an EKG, then you are familiar with how Biofeedback equipment works. Electrodes are attached to your skin, or in some cases, finger sensors may be used. Then signals are sent to a monitor which depicts the “rhythm” of what you are experiencing.
For example, our heartrate, blood pressure, muscle activity, and even breathing are all impacted when we are under stress. In other words, your heartrate increases, your blood pressure goes up, your muscles tighten and your breath quickens. The purpose of biofeedback is to make you aware of what is happening when, so that you might be able to curb it.
Whereas this technology is most utilized in a doctor’s office, biofeedback machinery is now being offered to the public. You can have your own personal machine, at home, connected to your personal computer. This is particularly beneficial for professional athletes who want to reach peak performance. But it can also help those of us with other ailments.
Most of us have one or more of these common issues: asthma, chronic pain, anxiety, headaches, injuries, rheumatoid arthritis, tinnitus, urinary or bowel issues, and high blood pressure. Biofeedback has been used successfully to help individuals with each of these ailments. Furthermore, it facilitates us being able to control these issues ourselves. That is empowering.
How does it work? A biofeedback therapist will typically help you practice relaxation techniques that can teach you how to control different body functions. Deep breaths can help slow down your breathing, or progressive muscle relaxation teaches you how to alternate tightening and relaxing various muscles throughout your body. Even forms of meditation can be utilized to help you control your body in these instances.
Needless to say, being able to “read” your body and take action to control any negative behaviors or results, can yield optimal health. Now imagine what it could do for an athlete’s performance. That’s powerful stuff!
Types of Biofeedback:
There are five types of biofeedback formats. Each helps specific types of problems or concerns.
Electromyogram (EMG):measures muscle activity and tension. It is used for anxiety, back pain, headaches, and muscle retraining following injuries.
Electrodermal activity (EDA): measures sweating. The results can be used for both anxiety and pain.
Heart rate variability (HRA): measures heart rate. It may also be used for anxiety, as well as asthma, chronic pulmonary disease, or irregular heartbeat.
Thermal: measures skin temperature and is used in alleviating headaches.
Neurofeedback: measures brainwaves. It is used for epilepsy, seizures or ADHD.
Most interesting is that these various forms of biofeedback are intended to show you (the patient) what is happening in your body. It is still up to you to find a solution for the issue. You can either use the techniques recommended by the therapists to control the issue or try prescription medications.
For individuals who prefer more holistic methods in healthcare, biofeedback and its subsequent therapies have proven an answer to prayer. These examples of how we can control our bodies physical reaction by emotional and mental control is most telling. Is it possible that we are in control of our health after all? In some cases, we may be.