It may sound a little crazy to say, but breathing is a vastly underrated action of the human body. Sure, we all appreciate the process of surviving, but there’s a difference between surviving and living.
Breathing helps us live our lives to their full potential in a far more nuanced fashion than the automatic function we know. It can help with mood balances, how we respond to stress, and our overall wellness during everyday tasks.
Today’s blog will focus on one other benefit of breathing practice - pain management. If you suffer from back pains and aches in the lower back region, then there’s probably a good chance that a breathing exercise can be the soothing source of relief you're looking for.
So, with that in mind, keep reading below to find out how.
Breathing & Movement
One of the critical elements of breathing is the movement created in your body when you breathe. Specifically, our diaphragm is the vital muscle that governs movement when breathing. However, breathing is not the diaphragm's sole role in the body. Instead, the diaphragm plays a role in postural stability as well, lending a hand to the lower back and abdominal muscles to create an ideal posture.
Now, you may be asking yourself whether incorrect breathing habits are the reason for having lower back pain. Thankfully, we’re here to tell you that, regardless of which came first, it doesn’t matter whether your posture or your breathing habits are causing a problem - the solution is the same for both.
For correct posture and ideal breathing habits, a whole collection of different muscles in the core need to work together as best as possible to make everything work. As a result, correct breathing and posture are intimately intertwined, with one helping the other.
Breathing Exercises for Back Pain
Below are two breathing exercises that you can try today to help alleviate lower back pain. These techniques focus on engaging the diaphragm and creating an even rhythm of breathing for the body.
The 4-7-8 focuses on using counting to develop a rhythm of breathing that calms the body and encourages the diaphragm to expand more naturally when breathing.
Breathe through your nose while counting to four, making sure to keep your tongue at the top of your mouth.
Hold that breathe for seven seconds.
Exhale through your mouth for a count of eight seconds.
This technique is commonly taught in yoga and is incredibly useful at helping your body relax. It’s also an extremely straightforward technique that can be hugely beneficial from just about any location.
Your diaphragm creates more space in your chest and lets your lungs expand as you breathe. This technique allows you to breathe more effectively from the diaphragm instead of shallow breathing, which is essential in helping to manage back pain.
Lie on your back or sit comfortably.
Place one hand on your upper chest and the other hand just beneath your ribcage.
Inhale slowly through your nose and feel your belly move out against your hand. Make sure the hand on your chest stays as still as possible.
Breathe out through pursed lips and pull your abdominal muscles in towards your rib cage. Again, make sure the hand on your chest stays still.
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 remember: Breathe Better, Live Better.