Breathe Through Chronic Pain with Diaphragmatic Breathing

The Exhale
May 23, 2022
5 min read

Chronic pain can be a profoundly debilitating state. The constant feelings of discomfort can considerably raise tension in the body as muscles tense up in reaction to the pain. Often, this causes the pain only to worsen as the body becomes more intimately aware of the pain's existence as it spreads.

Chronic pain can come from various sources such as headaches, migraines, arthritis, high blood pressure, joint issues, and many different diseases. While the treatment for these types of afflictions can vary wildly depending on the severity of the illness, one thing remains a constant – the chronic pain that must be managed.

While there are a variety of drug-related solutions to ceiling with chronic pain, many of these solutions may not be strictly available to those with additional allergies or sensitives to medication. As a result, an alternative method must be devised.

In today’s blog, we’ll be delving into the role diaphragmatic breathing can play in managing chronic pain and the techniques that can be used with the most ease.

Read on!

How Breathing Helps

While it may sound strange that simply breathing can aid in the management of chronic pain, the reality is that breathing techniques have been used for generations to help manage pain before the rise of medications.

Ancient Roman philosophers known as the “Stoics” were great proponents of pain management techniques, with many suffering from afflictions that they refused to allow to dictate their livelihoods.

Diaphragmatic Breathing & Pain

Our typical response is to tense up when we feel pain. Our nervous system engages in a “fight or flight response” that boosts awareness while making our muscles more responsive to potential danger. The downside to this process is that continuously activating our fight or flight response due to chronic pain can cause us to become more aware of the source of pain over time, making the pain profoundly debilitating.

Diaphragmatic breathing is a process that works to disengage the fight or flight response by focusing the body to breathe fully and expand the ribcage. This rebalances the body’s oxygen and carbon dioxide ratio while simultaneously signaling the body through the vagus nerve to release tension. The result of all of this is a greater ability to manage the pain being felt in the body.

To get the best out of your diaphragmatic breathing sessions, try this technique below:

It goes as follows:

  • Focus your breathing through your belly rather than your chest. To aid yourself, place your hand on your belly to feel the rise and flow more easily.

  • Take a deep breath and hold it for a few seconds before exhaling. Repeat this process.

  • Keep this up for 5-10 minutes, or until you feel noticeably calmer and less tense.

For more information regarding how to manage your breathing for a more effective lifestyle, visit our other blogs here at The Exhale to get the latest tips and tricks.

For free guided breathing exercises that you can take anywhere, try out the Breathwrk app here and enjoy a FREE 7-day trial with access to everything we have to offer!

And remember: Breathe Better, Live Better.


The Exhale