Vagus Nerve Hack | Valsalva Maneuver

Let’s discuss another vagus nerve hack that you can incorporate into your day to decrease your heart rate and regulate your nervous system. This one is a little unique; it’s different than our standard slow, deep breathing. The Valsalva maneuver is great for anyone that’s experiencing super ventricular tachycardia (SVT), which is an increase in your heart rate. In essence, it will slow the heart rate down and create a relaxation response.

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Anatomy

Now let’s talk a little bit about anatomy. The vagus nerve is leaving the brainstem and branches off to innervate muscles of the face, ears, throat, heart, digestive tract, and elimination tract. As it relates to the heart, specifically for this maneuver, the vagus nerve innervates the SA node of the heart. So, by creating pressure in the chest, it signals the SA node to signal the AV node to decrease the heart rate. In essence, the Valsalva will slow the signaling down in the lower chamber of the heart, which decreases the heart rate.

Precautions

Before we get into how you’re going to perform the technique, I do want to remind you who should not perform this technique. Anyone that has a known heart condition, congenital heart disease, coronary artery disease, or heart disease, should not perform this, and/or check with your medical doctor. There is a temporary increase in blood pressure so it can place you at higher risk. If you do not fall into one of those categories, please feel free to give this a try.

How to Perform the Technique:

  • Inhale normally, pinch your nostrils, and begin to exhale.
  • Hold it for 10 seconds. You’re exhaling through the nose while you are pinching your nasal valves, thereby creating pressure in your chest.

Initially evaluate how you feel, and then you could repeat this several times. It should have a slowing of the heartbeat and relaxation response. A great thing to do is to take your pulse before and after the maneuver to see if it has lowered your heart rate. You can use your radial or carotid pulse, whatever is easiest for you. Just make sure not to use your thumb when taking your pulse. The Valsalva maneuver can be a great addition to your life and your health.

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Vagus Nerve Hack | Neck Release

Vagus Nerve Hack | Neck Release

Not only can you consciously tap into the power of your vagus nerve; you should.

Known as the “wandering nerve” in Latin, it begins in the brainstem and innervates the muscles of the throat, circulation, respiration, digestion and elimination tracks. It accounts for 80 percent of our parasympathetic, or “rest and digest,” nervous system.

Healthy vagal activity is associated with better physical and mental well-being. Otherwise, it can cause issues such as inflammation, heart disease, and strokes.

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In other blogs, we have covered some of the best vagus nerve hacks. Today’s neck release will not only target some of the key muscles that are involved in stress breathing, but also the carotid artery which moves into the carotid sinus, innervated by the vagus nerve.

So just like all the other vagus nerve hacks, this will induce a relaxation response. We are doing this through stimulation of the vagus nerve via the carotid sinus.

How To Perform This Exercise

To perform this exercise, use a small to medium-sized ball, preferably soft, and gently place it on the left side of the upper neck right under your ear. You will compress, shear, and lengthen, by placing some pressure into the tissue and then gently twisting the ball across the neck. You want to be gentle with your twist and you want to move your head in the opposite direction as you are doing this. Once you get to the center of your neck, you’ll want to be more cautious because you have your hyoid bone, larynx, pharynx, and esophagus there, which will be a little more sensitive. Then, continue to rotate the ball to the other side of your neck while naturally rotating your head in the opposite direction.

So what are some things that you may experience after performing this exercise?

1) You may feel like your face and neck feel much more relaxed or softened.

2) You may feel a sigh, swallow, or yawn which is a sign of relaxation of the nervous system.

3) You may feel warmth in your face.

4) You may feel like you can see, hear, or speak more clearly. This is due to the stimulation of the vagus nerve, and some of the other facial and cranial nerves.

The great thing about these simple vagus nerve hacks is that you can do them anytime and anywhere during the day. It can bring you back to this parasympathetic state, the state of social engagement, where you are connected, mindful, and joyful.

Reach out for a 15-minute FREE discovery session to see how we can help you on your journey.

For more content, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel here.

Other things that may interest you:

Top 5 Vagus Nerve Hacks to Help You Relax and Restore

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