Biofeedback is time intensive and requires you to work with an expert to understand or “feel” your body better. It’s a potent tool that can improve the functional capacity of your heart or other cardiovascular symptoms.
I explain biofeedback to my patients as a method of interpreting and understanding the physiological functions of the body. It’s a method of becoming in tune with the body.
In the age of modern medicine, it’s a common false belief that only a heart rate monitor or EKG can tell us about the heart’s function. Though these are great tools, they also improve our sense of well-being regarding the cardiovascular system.
I use biofeedback in my private practice with low back pain patients. Especially for those who have an exaggerated pain sensation, musculoskeletal biofeedback can help them better overcome the pain.
In this article, I don’t want to focus too much on the technical side of biofeedback. There are incredible tools, from virtual reality to implantable sensors. But let’s start with the basics because it’s the most achievable for most of us.
Biofeedback can be broken down into biomechanical and physiologic ones. In biomechanical feedback, I might measure how much range of motion someone achieves with their low back injury.
Sometimes biomechanical feedback utilizes technology to determine how much pelvic pressure someone can exert with their kegel exercises.
Physiological feedback might require some measurement techniques. Neuromuscular feedback may require EEG measurements or gait assessment.
I measure heart rate, respiratory rate, and even cardiac perfusion when providing cardiovascular biofeedback.
The common conditions I treat with heart biofeedback include the following:
- shortness of breath
- exercise capacity
- chest pain
Individuals with a history of a heart attack want to get back into an exercise routine. Often angina gets in the way. The pain creates a cycle of fear and emotional dissonance, which worsens cardiovascular capacity.
I can show my client on a heart rate monitor what their heart is doing as they increase their activity level. We review this together and dive deep into what they are feeling in their chest, arms, back, etc.
It’s one thing to diagnose a patient using advanced technology, and it’s another to empower a person to manage their own body. Biofeedback methods can empower a person to self-regulate their physiologic processes.
The goal is to work on a particular medical condition or symptoms afflict you. A feedback expert will sit with you and help you recognize signals in the body which you can manipulate to achieve the desired outcomes.
This is powerful in that you can do this yourself moving forward. For most heart-related issues you need a heart rate monitor and an oxygen monitor.