How is Breath Connected to Back Pain?
The muscles of the back are directly connected to your ribcage and lungs. Ease back pain by learning how to breath better. The solution might be that simple.
Often when something hurts, we concentrate on the pain. This pushes us to use pain medication and other bandaid solutions. Changing your mindset to focus on the solution will help you discover ways to alleviate your pain from the source, rather than mask it.
When your muscles of the back hurt, resist the urge to simply take a pill and go about your day. Believe it or not, you can use your own breath to ease your pain!
Using Breathe to Heal the Muscles of the Back
You absolutely need your breath to live. Despite this fact, we tend to forget about this vital function. Let's look at how bringing your attention to breathing can help relieve your back pain.
Breathing Muscle Anatomy
The diaphragm muscle separates your chest cavity from the abdominal space and plays a major role in breathing. This muscle attaches to:
Up at the xiphoid process of the sternum in the front of your chest
To the sides on the costal cartilages of your ribs
Down at the lumbar vertebrae in your lower back
When you breathe in, the diaphragm lifts, pulling your spine long and separating your vertebrae. This stretching of the spine alleviates pain and stimulates blood flow to the muscles of the back to stimulate healing. However, you only receive full benefits when you breathe properly.
Focusing on your breath eases you into a state of mindfulness, taking away the stressors of the outside world. This quiets down your sympathetic nervous system, responsible for your "fight or flight" response.
Instead, it activates the parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for the body's "rest and digest" response. This signals for your muscles to relax, releasing tension, often the responsible party for back pain.
During deep breathing, your body also releases endorphins. These natural feel-good chemicals change the way your body perceives pain, thus making your back muscles feel better.
How To Breathe Properly
Practice breathing with intention in order to help your back. Both lower back pain and upper back pain can come from poor posture.
Start your breathing practice by standing, sitting or laying with your spine straight and long. Untuck your pelvis and extend the crown of your head as far from your feet as possible.
Then, breathe in through your nose, with your lips together. Stick your tongue to the top of your mouth.
Breathe in slowly, as if you want to carefully sip in something delightful without spilling it. To make your breath more intentional, count to 7.
To exhale, separate your teeth and lips, and make an even, controlled sigh of breath from your mouth. Exhale more forcefully and for longer than you inhaled, to completely empty your lungs. Count to 9.
When you do this, notice your body. Do not simply puff up your chest. Make sure your breath travels all the way to your pelvis.
Incorporating Breathing Exercises into Daily Life
You can literally practice this anywhere. Try in the morning when you first wake up, or at night before bed when your back pain feels the worst.
Activities that will assist in this include:
Sometimes keeping tuned into your breath on your own can be difficult, as our mind wanders to distractions. Many people benefit from finding places that offer these activities, to guide them through breathing.
Bad breath causes more problems than one might assume. Start breathing better to both relieve the muscles in your back and to improve your overall quality of life.
I want to help you breathe better with yoga therapy, so you can ease the pain in your muscles of the back. Contact me to get started!