Woman seated on yoga mat with her hand over her belly and her heart

Breathing for Pain Relief and Back Support

Deep breathing is the most accessible, natural pain management tool there is. When you're feeling aches and pains, taking slow, deep breaths can help calm your body down. 

When you deepen and slow down your breathing, you send a message to your brain to relax. Your brain then signals your muscles to loosen up and release tension. 

Belly breathing is one of my favorite techniques for relieving anxiety, stress, pain and tension. Not only is belly breathing great for feeling better right away, it's also good for building a healthy spine. 


Belly breathing for physical, mental AND spinal health: what experts say.

In 2010, an international study showed slow abdominal breathing reduced the “fight-or-flight” response. It showed that diaphragmatic breathing reduces stress, anxiety, anger, and inflammation by activating the relaxation response. 


Belly breathing has functional movement benefits, too. 


Doug Barsanti, of Reinvention Fitness talks about the functional benefits of belly breathing like this:


"You were born with a diaphragmatic breathing pattern (belly breathing) and used it to stabilize yourself before you could learn to roll over.


"As an adult, you CAN learn to breathe properly again, and that sets the stage for helping your body function the way it should.


"...if you want to protect yourself from back pain and get stronger, it's worth the effort to learn how to do this."


How does belly breathing work to support your spine?

Belly Breathing builds intra-abdominal pressure. It involves training your breathing pattern to create a cylinder of pressure in your abdomen. This protects your low back from excessive strain or injury. Belly breathing can improve the way you move and the way you feel over time.


How to belly breathe for mental and spinal health.

I like to think about belly breathing as a skill you can practice and expand upon. There's a beginning level, and a more advanced practice you can build up to. 


As you become more comfortable with this therapeutic form of breathing, you'll begin to feel, and move, better.


Belly breathing level 1

Lay on your back on the floor or on a mat. Bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor.


Place your hands on the front of your belly. Take 10 deep breaths, focusing on inflating your belly toward the ceiling. Keep your chest, neck, and shoulders relaxed and soft.


Move your hands to the sides of your waist and focus on inflating your abdomen outward into your hands for 5 to 10 breaths.


Focus on pressing your low back into the floor with each inflation of your abdomen. Visualize a cylinder filling with air in all directions.


Practice this technique until you feel comfortable and confident in your ability to create your cylinder of air.


Belly breathing level 2

Start with the steps above for 5 breaths.


Practice keeping your cylinder expanded, even during your exhale. Fill your abdomen with air, pushing out in all directions. Maintain this shape of your abdomen while you exhale.


Repeat for 15 to 20 breaths. Keep your chest, neck, and shoulders relaxed.


Are you dealing with ongoing aches and pains that just don't seem to go away?

While belly breathing is a powerful tool for managing back pain, you may need to address your pain’s root cause.


Our Aptos chiropractors can work with you to diagnose and treat the cause of your back pain.


Make an online appointment with us. We're here to help you feel better as soon as possible and get back into the life you love.


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