Biofeedback: Exciting and Empowering Process
Train Your Body to Mind
Biofeedback is useful in treating many disorders, ranging
from the reeducation of damaged nerves to certain types of epilepsy,
but it is most typically used in treating disorders like TMJ, irritable
bowel syndrome, chronic
blood pressure, generalized
stress, anxiety, incontinence and insomnia.
Biofeedback is a valuable option, because it is a noninvasive process
that can be used to train you how to manage and change troublesome
Biofeedback involves using electronic instrumentation to
monitor specific, often unconscious physiological activities
and habit patterns of your body and then "feed back" the
information to you. Once you are aware of what your body
is doing, you can change those patterns to reduce or eliminate
your symptoms. Biofeedback is effective for chronic, benign
problems because it reduces long term medication use, the
frequency of emergency room visits, physician consultations
and it has NO side effects!
If you are a medical or mental health professional, please
see our Professional Equipment section.
Please contact us if you need help in choosing the right biofeedback device for your health concern.
FREE ongoing support by phone, email and/or discussion board with every purchase!
Until now, you had to meet
in the office of a biofeedback therapist to practice
with biofeedback equipment.
Now, many types of
biofeedback equipment are now so portable and inexpensive
they are excellent for home use. They are readily available
and you can use them in the privacy of your own home. Ah...but
something is still missing.
What do you do with
these powerful units when you are not trained in biofeedback?
We are trained biofeedback therapists and counselors with
years of experience and we offer FREE support
with all our biofeedback instruments. You can buy with confidence
knowing you not only have the most advanced biofeedback instruments
but access to knowledgeable professionals who can support you
every step of the way. What could be better?
Three Levels of the Stress
All of the problems above these are either caused
by or aggravated by stress. It is useful to understand how stress is involved.
The first type of stress is comprised of external events
to which you react.
These can be environmental, interpersonal, familial or
job related. Such factors need to be eliminated or a means
developed to reduce their impact. This type of stress
is called the 'stressor'.
The second type is your reaction
to the stressor. This is important, because how an event
is interpreted determines much of your physiological
response. For example, you respond differently
to an event you perceive as a threat than to an event
you perceive as positive in nature.
The third type of stress is the change in your physiology
over time, as your body reacts to the stressor. Your body's
initial stress response can become a habit in a relatively
short period of time. Unless you are aware that you
are forming a stress induced habit and you consciously
work to return your physiology to normal, the habit becomes
How Stress Reactions
Symptoms of physiological tension might not be noticed immediately when a you
encounter stress, and if the response is unnoticed, it can form into a dysfunctional
habit, gradually, over time. For example, bruxing or clenching your teeth is
normal under stress. However, if the stressor persists the bruxing/clenching
habit can "take on a life of it's own" so that when the initial stress subsides
the bruxing/clenching continues, creating long term problems after the initial
stressor has been withdrawn.
In another way, chronic habits that previously were not
a problem can become painful. For example, if
you are involved in an accident and injure a muscle,
the muscle tissue becomes more sensitive. If high levels
of tension were previously present and unnoticed, they now
contribute to the pain. This often happens with chronic neck
and shoulder tension.
For example, a habit develops outside of your
awareness, becomes chronic and eventually leads to TMJ
problems. In another example, chronic unconscious
tension which was not a source of pain before an accident
becomes an aggravating factor to injured tissue. In both
these examples the tension is outside of your awareness
but the pain isn't. You don't realize the source of the
pain and don't know how to alter the muscle tension
in order to help reduce the pain or you may not be aware
that tension can aggravate pain.
Along with the specific tension responses, there are
also general stress responses which have an impact. Explaining
how the autonomic nervous system functions, including
the sympathetic and parasympathetic components will provide
some insight. The sympathetic component of the autonomic
nervous system acts like an accelerator pedal to gear
up the physiology for action or to prepare the body for
coping with danger. But it also causes wear and tear
if the body stays geared up; organ systems start to fatigue,
producing many of the symptoms listed in the above chart.
On the other hand, the parasympathetic component acts
like a brake pedal, relaxing physiologic processes and
returning organ functioning to normal. This allows recovery
from the wear and tear on your body that is caused by
sympathetic arousal and the stress response. Generalized
relaxation training is designed to reduce the stress
response and increase the relaxation response.
Monitoring with Electronic
When you have tense muscles, surface
electromyography (sEMG), electrodes can be attached to the skin over
the tight muscles. These electrodes monitor the electrical activity of the
affected muscle and produce an electronic signal indicating increases or
decreases in muscle tension. Changes in the electronic signal are clearly
displayed by a tone or on the computer screen. When you are aware of the
levels of tension, you can learn how to make changes to lower it.
The jaw and neck muscles are easily affected
by stress and are often directly involved in headaches,
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain and neck pain.
Once the level of chronic tension is known and understood,
the goal is to relax tight muscles and see the tension
levels return to normal.
Behaviors such as grinding your teeth, squinting your
eyes or tightening your shoulders increase
muscle tension. Learning how to relax your jaw, shoulders
and not squinting your eyes results in
Your respiration pattern is another good indicator of your
general level of stress or relaxation; rapid high chest movement
is sympathetically arousing and tension producing while slower
abdominal movement is parasympathetically arousing and relaxation
During the process, you begin
to understand the need to become relaxed and learn how it
feels to be relaxed.
Change Can Feel Uncomfortable
The support we provide is important because achieving a relaxed state can often
feel new, different and uncomfortable. You may experience increased
pain as the relaxation process begins "stretching" the muscles.
Stretching pain is often sharper than the chronically experienced pain. In
our online classes and with
our expert coaching, we teach you how to distinguish stretching muscle
pain from tension pain.This discomfort is normal and temporary. It actually
represents a positive development, for as muscle tissue stretches, its capacity
to relax increases; blood flow to the muscle and healing ability also increase.
Relaxation Leads to
The phenomenon of experiencing stretching pain upon relaxing a muscle reinforces
of the chronic pain cycle. In trying to avoid the sensation of stretching pain,
you can actually increase the tension that is causing your pain. A slight increase
in tension will reduce the stretching pain and give momentary relief from the
pain caused by stretching, but it contributes to shortening of the muscle fiber
and increases the long term pain. Muscle fibers can shorten within just a few
days or gradually after an injury because of "bracing" behavior.
Your first experience with biofeedback equipment
and reducing muscle tension is usually exciting and empowering.
You may have previously associated a sense of
control with behaviors such as tightening, guarding and
bracing, but real body control involves
letting go and relaxing.
Effectiveness of Biofeedback
Biofeedback is extremely effective for significantly reducing
both the frequency and severity of the majority of tension and
migraine headaches. Tension and post-accident neck pain symptoms can also
be significantly reduced by using sEMG.
If you suffer from chronic anxiety and panic attacks, you
can reduce your symptoms with
the use of the GSR2 or emWave PC but
you may need to pursue further counseling to obtain permanent
relief by dealing with your deeper emotional issues.
syndrome sufferers are often able
to prevent most of their "attacks" through
relaxation and learning the particular type of abdominal
breathing we teach. Hypertension sufferers
can also benefit from slow deep abdominal breathing.
Biofeedback can be helpful for low back pain when the
back muscles are tense, but tension is only one factor
producing pain and you need to pursue posture and strengthening
exercises as well.
Incontinence can have several sources, nerve injury
from surgery or weak sphincter muscles. Biofeedback is
helpful in both cases to educate and reinforce the proper
functioning of the sphincter muscles.
During biofeedback training, you gain understanding of your stressors,
your interpretation of the stressors and your physiological response patterns.
You learn how to change your physiological responses from abnormal to
normal, how to recognize tension responses and how to eliminate symptoms.
You will come to realize the importance of daily practice. If your
dysfunctional patterns and symptoms recur, you will have the knowledge needed
to regain control. Biofeedback does take time and attention, but the skills
acquired are well worth the effort.
Author: Thomas Cobb