Our bodies are very complex machines. We function at different levels: voluntary, and involuntary. Voluntary functions are actions and movements that we control. We can decide to climb up stairs, turn our head to the side, or walk in any direction. Involuntary functions are controlled by your involuntary nervous system and are difficult to control, such as your heart beating, your blood pressure rising, or your body regulating its temperature.
Biofeedback therapy puts the focus on your involuntary body functions, and can help with conditions such as chronic pain, anxiety, high blood pressure and headaches. Biofeedback therapy is not meant to replace prescribed medications. You should always consult with your primary care physician before starting a new treatment.
Biofeedback therapy uses a variety of sensors and electrodes that collect the information on your heart rate, brain waves, rate of breathing, skin temperature and muscle tension. This information is then translated into sound, images or lighting on a monitor for you to see.
These involuntary functions can undergo dramatic changes when your body is under stress or in pain. By viewing and understanding the changes that are happening you are better able to control them. For example, when you can see that your heart rate is becoming rapid due to stress, you are better able to combat these physical changes with exercises such as slow deep breaths, imagery or even meditation practices. A biofeedback therapist would help you to practice these exercises.
The idea behind biofeedback is that you can change how your body responds to physical or mental stimuli through various techniques along with a better understanding of how the human body works. While biofeedback is not a cure, with practice it can aid in an overall better quality of life.