The Chemistry of Respiration

The respiratory center does its work based on the acid-alkaline balance of the blood. For optimal health, the blood must remain slightly alkaline. When the body’s chemical activity increases because of physical effort, emotional stress, or sensory stimulation, more carbon dioxide and acids are produced. This increases the acidity of the blood. To counteract this increase and maintain homeostasis, the respiratory center automatically increases the breath rate. This helps to bring in needed oxygen and to expel excess carbon dioxide. When the body’s chemical activity decreases through relaxation or rest, less carbon dioxide is produced and our breathing automatically slows down.

For the most part we cannot alter the basic chemistry of the respiratory process, but we can influence it in a variety of indirect ways. One way is through the relaxation of excessive tension in our posture and movements. Tension involves muscular contraction and produces both lactic acid and carbon dioxide. By reducing chronic tension, we reduce the quantity of these waste products, as well as the work that the body needs to do to counteract them. The relaxation of chronic tension also makes possible the more efficient coordination of the various mechanisms involved in breathing.

At Massage Therapy Center Palo Alto, our expert therapists will help you release muscular tension and re-align your muscles and tissues so that you not only breathe better, but your sense of what is appropriate posture speaks to you more clearly.