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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