Core Faculty Member Liz Hoffmaster – Optimal Breathing LLC

Core Faculty Member Liz Hoffmaster

The Optimal Breathing School. Liz H. Licensed Physical Therapist.

Strapping: This technique was fascinating b/c it is a very fast, efficient way to rapidly change one’s depth, breadth, and perception of the breath in the cylinder of the torso. It also changes where the diaphragm is positioned in the torso, which in turn can have a very dramatic effect on the tensions in the neck, upper and lower extremities.  After simply doing a few strapping techniques I saw dramatic changes, for the better, in the Ober and Thomas tests, for example. When these tests are positive the very last thing a PT would consider is the prompt treatment of the diaphragm.
      These techniques also allowed me to feel and see how much easier it is to truly initiate a breath with the diaphragm, from the lower part of the torso.  In retrospect, I believe I never understood just how low this breath is really initiated.  I feel I will now be able to help my patients with their own problems, both with much better tools and with an in-depth understanding of where they need to go.

Reflexive Breathing: 
      This is easier to perceive after strapping and is something I think I avoid as a PT because it takes a lot of inner listening, time and moments of non-doing.  Not a point of strength or habit in my repertoire.  In the pleasant environment in which it was learned it felt great to take the time to notice its existence.  I will make an effort to include it in my patient care.

Voice and sound: 
      This was great for me to have an advanced work session around because it gave me a sense of myself, my fears, anxieties and body posturing, in a way I have never before experienced. 
      I feel that I have learned both a number of wonderful techniques to help my patients and gained new insight into my breathing, body, and mind.

In 1991 Liz Hoffmaster graduated with a degree in Physical Therapy from UT Medical Branch in Galveston and from the Austin School of Massage Therapy in 1999.  For the last 13 years, she has been working full-time with a variety of patients and clients with orthopedic, respiratory, musculoskeletal, visceral and lymphatic problems.  She uses an eclectic combination of osteopathic manual techniques, lymphatic drainage, respiratory, Optimal Breathing techniques and exercises in order to assist the client with returning to optimal function.

She has attended approximately 1300 hours of postgraduate classes, which have given her a diverse bag of tools with which to treat the eclectic group of kids and adults that show up daily for assistance and suggestions.  She has also taught various manual therapy techniques and made educational presentations to the general public and for support groups.

 "There is a problem I see in 95% of my patients these days and it has only become clearer to me in the last 2 years.  I believe it has been there all along but I did not recognize it.  Whether working out in the gym, walking or playing a sport, picking up the groceries or the little kid, it is present.  It is worse in teenagers and women who are self-conscious of their bellies, deeming them to be too fat or in some way inadequate. The problem is this: the use of the diaphragm as a prime mover, an initiator of motion.  Pick up the kid, tighten the diaphragm and pick her up.  Put on tight pants and suck in the abs, using the diaphragm, keep it held that way, all day if you can, breathing high and shallow.  Do those crunches and only partially breathe because you need a tight diaphragm to assist the poor old abdominals.  The core is no longer at the navel it is at the zyphoid process, driven by the diaphragm. So whether you come into our Austin Texas office for a broken toe or a jaw problem you get advice on how to let the diaphragm be a breathing muscle.  If you have to heave or lift something heavy, by all means, recruit it momentarily, but show me you can also dance or walk, smile or swim and let it do what it does best; breathe!!" 

Email Liz: lizhoffmaster@austin.rr.com

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