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Breathing Techniques for Pain Management

October 28, 2020
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You breathe to allow oxygen to fill your lungs, your blood, and your body. All day, every day, breathing happens in a subconscious and automatic fashion for us humans. What if breathing could help you manage pain? Focused and purposeful breathing may give you the power to manage the discomfort you feel in your body. Even better, all you have to use is your ability to breathe and your mind.

2 Easy Breathing Techniques to Help Your Pain

Your body is a lot like an intricate machine with all parts and systems working together. When you feel pain, your blood pressure, breathing rate, heart rate, and stress hormone levels increase. All this action in your body can intensify what you’re feeling.  

Relaxation through breathing:

  • Calms the mind
  • Drops stress hormones
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Stabilizes breathing and heart rate

While there are several breathing techniques you can try, two exercises, in particular, are easy to learn and easy to use.

1. Relax Your Mind and Body With the 4-7-8 Breathing Technique

Sometimes, you can relieve your mind and body with a little carefully focused breathing. The 4-7-8 breathing technique can be done while sitting or lying down, whichever makes you most comfortable. The breathing in itself is a form of belly breathing, which involves making your belly expand and contract as you pull your breath in and let it out.

1. Place one hand on your belly near the center point of your ribs and the other on your chest. 

2. Take in a full, deep breath through your nose and feel the air expanding your belly as it pushes out your hand. Count to 4 while you do. 

3. Hold the captured breath and count to 7. 

4. Allow the air to slip out slowly through your lips while silently counting to 8. Gently push the hand on your belly inward as you do as if you are expelling the tension and pain from your body with the exhale. 

5. Repeat just a few times or as many as 7 times. 

This breathing technique pulls your focus away from the discomfort in your body and forces it to pay attention to the air coming in and out and your counting. In a way, 4-7-8 breathing is a sort of displacement strategy, and it can be highly effective for some people.

2. Focus on Natural Rhythm With the Roll Breathing Technique

Breathing naturally happens in waves, so being mindful of the waves may help you manage pain. Roll breathing involves focusing specifically on the rhythm of your breathing and the fullness of your lungs. If you’re having a lot of pain and just want to stay in a comfortable position in the bed or on the sofa, that’s totally fine—this exercise can be done in just about any position with practice. Until you get the hang of it, try to lie comfortably on your back with your knees slightly bent and comfortable. 

1. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Feel the movement of your hands, up and down, as your breath moves in and then out. 

2. Breathe in through your nose slowly so that only the hand on your belly rises but the hand on your chest stays mostly still. This fills up the lower parts of your lungs. 

3. Breathe out through your mouth before the hand on your chest rises. 

4. Repeat this process about 10 times.

5. Now inhale to raise the hand on your belly, but continue to inhale as the hand on your chest rises and the hand on your belly falls as the belly flattens. This type of breathing fills your full lungs with air instead of just the lower parts. 

6. When you finally exhale, let the air out of your lungs through your mouth, and try making a slight whooshing sound as you do. Envision the pain and tension leaving your body with each exhale. 

Roll breathing creates a gentle rolling motion across your belly and chest. Try to do the exercise for 3 to 5 minutes, and you may see some much-needed relief in pain and tension.

Achieve Peace of Mind With Focused Breathing and CBD

General aches and pains, muscle strains, injuries — no matter the cause, dealing with pain is no joke. When you’re in pain, a sense of peace and well-being are hard to come by, but these breathing techniques may help. Try incorporating CBD for pain and inflammation into your pain management plan to reach a new state of relaxed relief. 

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