Biofeedback has two basic approaches. The general approach is designed for people who are stuck in a continuous mode of heightened arousal or the fight or flight mode. This condition exists when the organism’s physiology prepares it to escape (flight) or engage (fight). The muscles are tense, pulse is elevated, perspiration increase, blood flow to the extremities decreased, pupils widen, etc.
Biofeedback teaches people to prevent this constant state of alert in the first place and shows how to reduce it when it occurs.
There are three basic modalities, the “Workhorses” of biofeedback. Here they are:
Muscle Tension Biofeedback (Electromyography [EMG]),
Thermal or Temperature Biofeedback,
Sweat gland Activity or Skin Conductance Biofeedback.
For general relaxation, EMG biofeedback is done from the forehead. Being able to relax the muscles there is thought to have a state of muscle relaxation throughout the body.
Relaxation can also be induced by learning how to warm ones hand, via an attached sensor to a finger. The important part is not the hand warming, but for the hand-warming to be achieved, nervous system activity needs to be slowed, which in turn allows blood vessel in the hand to be opened and for increased blood flow to the extremities.
Skin conductance, or sweat gland activity are often indicators for heightened arousal. We all experienced sweaty palms at one point or another in our lives. The fight-flight response causes the sweat glands of the hand to become over active. By paying close attention to this activity people can learn strategies how to decrease that arousal.
Of course there are a myriad of other stress relaxation options (yoga, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, breathing, imagery etc.). I will be touching on each of them individually in later posts.
What can be treated?
Any condition related to heightened arousal of the SNS (Sympathetic Nervous System) or anxiety and stress. For example, anxiety disorders, headaches, elevated blood-pressure, IBS or irritable bowel syndrome.
Tomorrow: Biofeedback Modalities
Ps: Don’t forget about our “Food for the Ear” seminar on April, 13. For more info go to Upcoming Events.