A variety of different deep breathing techniques are often employment as a way to reduce pain. These practices are especially used by woman who want to give birth without using any form of pain relief and by athletes who want to push through tough exercise regimes, for instance when lifting weights or running or cycling long distance. Deep breathing techniques can also help to reduce stress and prevent the onset of panic attacks.
The more relaxed you can keep body and mind through deep breathing techniques, the less pain you will feel as tension leads to an increase in pain. Deep breathing techniques also help the mind embrace the pain, using it as a driving force to meet the desired end goal, enhancing your focus, rather than letting the pain being a hindering force.
Slow, Intentional Breathing
One of the most commonly used breathing techniques is slow, intentional breathing. A big breathe in through the nose is followed by a deep sigh out through the mouth, relaxing the entire body with the exhale. This is followed by a slight pause until the next deep breath naturally occurs. All attention should be focussed on the breathe while training your eyes on a specific focal point, such as picture or spot on the wall can also help. This slow breathing pattern is easily maintained when controlling light pain, such as the early stages of labour, or when doing low impact exercise.
Light accelerated breathing is commonly used in extreme pain or during the active stages of labour. Accelerated breathing refers to short, sharp breathes taken in and out lightly through the mouth, keeping the breathing at a rate of about one breath per second. Breathing can be slowed to intentional breathing as the pain decreases.
Expansion breathing is similar to slow, international breathing, however the air is expelled in a short sharp blow out, often accompanied by a groan, grunt, moan or other noise. Expulsion breathing is not done continuously but is normally preceded and followed by slow, intentional breathing. This form of breathing is best used when a lot of effort is being used, and assists to add power to your movement.
You can offer hear this form of breathing being used in the final stages of labour, by weightlifters in the final part of getting the weight over one’s head or by tennis players as they hit the ball. You may even hear it when someone wins big playing slots for real money!
Combining the above deep breathing techniques with yoga or meditation can further help with focus. This is particularly helpful when learning how to control chronic pain, when looking to alleviate muscle pain, or when you are recovering from injury. Yoga and meditation can help to lower blood pressure and slow the heart rate, which can all assist in helping ease the symptoms of chronic pain.
These daily exercises also help to loosen your muscles, increase your flexibility and teach you ways to manage your oxygen intake so that you have better control over both body and mind. Ultimately having control of your daily aches and pains can improve your functionality and quality of life.