As biofeedback therapists, we spent years in private practice helping people to alter chronic dysfunctional physical symptoms developed in response to stressful events. Biofeedback is an outstanding way to re-train behaviors responsible for symptoms like chronic pain, anxiety, high blood pressure, IBS, TMJ and chronic headaches. Now instead of having to go to an office where the therapist has spent thousands of dollars on equipment, technology and the internet have given you access to biofeedback processes and devices that you can do at home.
Changing habits and behavior is not always easy but with support you can move from understanding why something is happening to actually taking action that will remove the symptoms and make a difference in your well being and quality of life.
So, What is Biofeedback?
Simply put, Biofeedback is utilizing your own awareness and monitoring the biological signals produced by your body. For instance you can become aware of your breath and change the frequency of the breathing rate to encourage a relaxation response.
When you use electronic instrumentation to monitor your body's physiology it displays that information back to the you; hence the name bio-logical signal feed-back. With electronic monitoring you can increase your sensitivity and awareness of physiological activity in various areas and organ systems of your body. With this new awareness, you can change your body's 'dys-'function' into healthy functioning.
How Does It Work
Biofeedback instruments provide feedback on aspects of the body that react to stress (the autonomic nervous system). Physiologically, a healthy body will return to a relaxed state after a stressful event. If the body remains 'revved up' for long periods of time in response to stress it can cause breakdowns in many different body systems. This breakdown can result in painful symptoms or some chronic functional problems. Biofeedback shows what is not functioning properly so you can take steps to regain control of your body to establish function and eliminate symptoms. Below are descriptions of situations where biofeedback can be used with positive effect.
Generalized Stress and Relaxation
If you have generalized stress, learning to use a strategy that accesses the relaxation response for the entire body is the most appropriate. Daily relaxation is excellent for preventing the build up of generalized stress, promoting an inner sense of well-being and centeredness.
Unusually cold hands can be a result of body tension and stress. Learning how to warm the hands has been shown to be effective for migraine headaches, Raynaud's Syndrome and hypertension. The GSR2/Temp biofeedback device measures your skin temperature as well as your GSR (Galvanic Skin Response).
Migraine Headache/Chronic Tension Headaches
Chronic migraine, muscle contraction headaches or a combination of the two have triggers which can initiate them. While medical science has not yet determined the exact cause of migraine headache, research has shown that learning how to warm your hands has a positive effect and can be used to reduce the severity of a migraine headache. Reducing tension in the muscles of the jaw and neck also helps to reduce some of the triggers of migraine headaches. The GSR2/Temp biofeedback unit is useful for learning how to warm your hands. The Antense® Anti-tension Device can help reduce tension in your jaw and scalp muscles and our online Natural Headache Relief Program teaches you how to reduce muscular triggers for migraine and chronic headaches.
High Blood Pressure
The leading cause of stroke, heart attack and congestive heart failure, high blood pressure is often referred to as 'The Silent Killer'.
emWave Personal Stress Reliever
emWave Pro desktop version
If you are someone with Raynaud's syndrome, you experience abnormally cold hands which can be uncomfortable and even interfere with your life in significant ways. Learning how to warm your hands has been shown to positively affect Raynaud's Syndrome.
Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction can be painful and can affect the functioning of your jaw joint. Bruxing or jaw clenching is a major culprit to developing TMJ. Being able to relax the muscles of your jaw and neck will help you to stop bruxing. Our online class, Stop Bruxing Now, teaches you how to stop bruxing during the day which can also minimize night time bruxing.
Neck & shoulder pain
Neck and shoulder pain can be caused or aggravated by muscle tension. When a muscle is injured from a traumatic event, muscle tension increases the pain and retards the healing process. The MyoTrac muscle monitor can help train muscles to be less tense.
Whiplash occurs when the neck muscles become torn or strained due to sudden uncontrollable movement of the head and neck during accidents. Muscle tension can aggravate the pain from whiplash and retard healing. Relaxing the muscles of the neck can be helpful in recovery from whiplash. The MyoTrac muscle monitor is useful in helping to reduce muscle tension.
Muscles and nerves can be injured in several ways, accidents being the most common. Muscle monitors can help retrain damaged and injured muscles and help injured muscles and nerves work together. The MyoTrac family of muscle monitors is often used by professionals and patients to re-educate muscles.
Clenching and bruxing of the teeth has been implicated in chronic headaches and TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction). Learning how to stop bruxing is important for recovery. Our online class, Stop Bruxing Now, teaches you how to stop bruxing during the day which can also minimize night time clenching.
Heart Rate Variability (HRV)
Working with Heart Rate Variability to achieve a good relaxation response is quite rewarding. By monitoring the pulse rate the degree to which the heart is synchronized and controlled by the relaxation response can be calculated and played back to improve the relaxation response, The emWave Pro Stress Relief System can help mental focus and relaxation ability. The emWave2 Personal Stress Reliever is a portable handheld device that allows you to monitor and shift your focus from tense to relaxed anytime, anywhere.
For those people experiencing the benign but bothersome clinical conditions of Premature Ventricular Contractions and Mitral Valve Prolapse these devices can help reduce symptoms by increasing the relaxation response and the coordination of the heart beat with the parasympathetic nervous system.
Anxiety with panic attacks can be extremely uncomfortable and often debilitating. While psychotherapy is often important in the treatment of anxiety, learning how to relax well is often important in the long term management of anxiety. The GSR2 or emWave Pro Stress Relief System help promote the general relaxation response.
Concentration can be improved by learning how to focus attention and by reducing anxiety and learning how to relax. The emWave Pro has been useful in learning how to focus attention and reduce feelings of anxiety.
Learning how to focus attention and concentration and reduce stress and anxiety has improved performance. The emWave Pro is useful to improve peak performance.
Incontinence can be improved by strengthening and improving the functioning of the pelvic floor muscles. We have biofeedback devices that can be used to help you know that you are doing your Kegel exercises correctly and devices that provide resistance training to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.
The Paradox of ControlThe whole idea of using biofeedback to "take control" of your body's functioning seems paradoxical at first. "Taking control" in this case means to learn how to relax and "let go". We have learned that many of these stress related problems are best treated through relaxation, letting the body return to normal functioning. Tension or over activity has created the symptom. This over activity often originally began as a response to external pressures, crises or stress. These responses then became "normal" for the body, or the body became accustomed to a higher than normal degree of tension or over activity. This over activity then becomes a habit and continues, becoming chronic. Further, these tense habits are now outside of awareness. Though the tension is outside awareness, symptoms such as headaches are not. The symptoms then add to the stress a person experiences which increases the tension which increases the symptoms.
Biofeedback intervenes in this cycle by teaching a person how to relax, return the body's physiological activity back to normal and thereby decreasing or ending the symptoms.