Ways to To Help Your Sinuses This Allergy Season
By Osteopath, Heather Stone
With allergy season approaching, we wanted to share some breathing exercises to help alleviate some of the discomfort. As well, we believe that understanding what sinuses are, how they work, and what effects them will help you understand why these exercises are so effective.
What Are Sinuses?
Sinuses are a connected hallow space in the skull that are no larger than one inch long. These hallow spaces are located behind your cheekbones (the largest sinus), In lower center of your forehead, between your eyes, and in the bones behind your nose. We have sinuses for a number of reasons, such as lightening the skull, humidifying the air we breath, and improving the resonance of our voice. Their main function, however, is to produce a mucus. Mucus moisturizes the inside of our nose to protect the it from pollutants, micro-organisms, dust and dirt.
How do Allergies Effect my Sinuses?
About 20-30 percent of Canadians suffer from some kind of pollen allergy. These allergies can cause your sinuses to swell up and create pressure, which ultimately makes it difficult to breathe.
How Can I Relieve my Sinuses?
Breathing exercises can be helpful when experiencing inflamed or congested sinuses and other symptoms of allergies and sinusitis.
Spend several minutes establishing a firm and balanced seated posture that you can maintain, without distraction, for the duration of the exercise. Balance evenly on your sitting bones—left to right and front to back—and sit up tall. You can also sit with your back supported with a cushion. Keep your top chest open, relax your shoulders, and place your palms down on your knees, with arms straight but not stiff. This palms-down position creates less strain in the shoulders and upper back. It also gives a firm tripod support for the spine.
We naturally have a brief pause between in inhalation and exhalation (inhalation, pause, exhalation, pause). Set a timer for 5 minutes and in breath in for a count of 3, pause, exhale for a count of 3. You can extend the count to 4, 5 or even 6 over time. This exercise should not be strenuous in any way. Nice gentle breaths.
Cranial Osteopathy is very helpful for treating sinus issues. This is done with manual therapy and aims to improve the subtle movements of the facial bones which make up the wall of the sinuses. Osteopathic treatment helps release stresses and tensions throughout the head and face. This helps support drainage of the sinus cavities to relive congestion and prevent mucus build up. Osteopathic treatment can also reduce intensity and frequency of sinus congestion