Manual Therapy and Asthma


There’s an epidemic of asthma going on.  Seven percent (7%) of adults, and nine percent (9%) of children are thought to have the disease – and the incidence is rising.


There could be many reasons for the epidemic:

  • The increase in air pollution
  • Exposure to pesticides and other neurotoxins
  • Our germophobic, overly-clean culture that under-stimulates our immune system
  • Pervasive attitude of anxiety that leads to shallow breathing
  • Sedentary lifestyle – never challenging your lungs to their full capacity
  • Pro-inflammatory diet packed with sugar and omega-6 fatty acids

These factors, as well as others, may all play a role in the growing asthma crisis.

Unfortunately, I can’t offer you a new theory or a comprehensive overview of asthma.  There are plenty of experts out there who have far more of this specific information than I have.

Nor do I offer a comprehensive treatment approach to asthma.

But I do have a method of working with asthma sufferers that is effective to some degree for many (though not all) people.

It’s based on a simple model.

Isn’t breathing great?

I mean, without hardly thinking about it, your lungs fill up with all the oxygen you need.  And while they’re at it, they purge your blood of the extra carbon dioxide your metabolism is pumping out.

And that isn’t all.  Your breathing apparatus automatically adjusts whether the air is hot, cold, dry or humid.  It automatically clears your respiratory passages of dust that clogs up the works.  It ramps up its rate and depth when you exercise.

You don’t have to pay your lungs a dime for all this great service.  It all comes for free.

Still – no one’s lungs work perfectly under all circumstances.

For example

  • Even top athletes eventually hit their limit.  There’s an ultimate level of exertion at which their lungs can’t suck up oxygen fast enough.
  • A firefighter can’t run into a burning building without breathing equipment.  The lungs can’t filter the smoke fast enough.
  • If you’re anxious and upset, your breathing is going to be shallower.  In fact, if you have an extreme type of anxiety reaction – a panic attack, for instance – you might even find yourself gasping for your next breath.

In other words, everyone’s lungs work just fine within a certain range of conditions.

If you’re an asthma sufferer, you’re no different than anyone else.

Most of the day, your brain can regulate lung function adequately and you can breathe just fine.  Unfortunately for you, though, it’s easier than it should be to throw your lungs into an unacceptable functional pattern.

I don’t have a cure for asthma.

Technically, I don’t even have a treatment for asthma.  I don’t know what’s causing your asthma, or what all your specific triggers are, or how your internal chemistry works.

But what if there were a way to improve your lung function?

It wouldn’t make your asthma go away.  But it might give you an expanded functional range.  It might make it less likely that you’ll have an asthma attack.

(I’ve emphasized the word “might” because there are no guarantees here.  There are reports of the effectiveness of these methods for asthma and other breathing difficulties.  But a lot of research would still need to be done.)

For asthma sufferers I use a combination of manual therapy and therapeutic exercise methods that

  • Make it easier for the ribcage to open for inhalation and then spring back during the exhale
  • Allow the entire trunk to expand equally and freely in response to your breathing
  • Help the brain coordinate the different aspects of breathing – the rate and rhythm, the caliber of your bronchial tubes, and the blood flow to the lungs.

Here are the first two steps.

First, keep a diary for 3-5 days.  For each entry, record the asthma symptoms you experience that day.  Use a number scale of 1-10 to grade the severity.  This will give us a baseline to gauge your progress.

Second, call or e-mail my office to schedule an appointment for an evaluation and initial treatment aimed at improving your lung function.  Here are the phone numbers : 212-400-9663 or 609-497-1944.

If you’re not in the area of New York City or Princeton, NJ, call my office anyway.  That way I can help you find the right practitioner in your community.

You’ll soon begin to experience for yourself the potential that multi-dimensional manual therapy might have for improving your breathing and your life.


Deepen Your Body of Knowledge

More on the art of breathing

The myth of deep breathing


About Ronald Lavine, D.C.

Dr. Lavine has more than thirty years' experience helping patients alleviate pain and restore health using diverse, scientifically-based manual therapy and therapeutic exercise and alignment methods. His website,, provides more information about his approach. Please contact him at or at 212-400-9663.
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One Response to Manual Therapy and Asthma

  1. George Blomme says:

    Great write-up Ron and with a good marketing twist too.

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