Stop Pain With Deep, Slow Breathing Techniques

Your very next breath might bring relief from what ails you.

Just take that breath more slowly. Seems the deep, slow breathing techniques used in Zen meditation and other mindfulness pursuits may help stop pain and aches—and lift your spirits to boot!

Mind Your Billows

When healthy women in a study were exposed to a heat source that was mildly to moderately painful, they reported feeling way less discomfort when they took slow breaths (about half their usual breathing rate) compared with when they breathed normally. They felt not only less discomfort but less stress, too. Researchers think the slow breathing techniques somehow trigger the parasympathetic nervous system to induce calm and stop pain produced by the sympathetic nervous system. (Here's more on how mind-body intervention can help control pain.)

A Dual Approach

A second group of women in the study with fibromyalgia did not appear to benefit from the slower breathing—possibly due to feelings of depression that characterize the condition along with chronic pain. But the researchers think deep breathing techniques might help that group as well if it's combined with counseling and treatment for depression.

Are clogged sinuses making it hard to breathe? Clear your head with help from Dr. Roizen.

More On

What Are Other Strategies Besides Medication for Managing Chronic Pain?

video

What Are Other Strategies Besides Medication for Managing Chronic Pain?
Besides medications, other treatment options used to manage chronic pain can include physical or occupational therapy, e-stimulators, ultrasound and o...
Pain: Should You Worry? 3 Ways to Tell

article

Pain: Should You Worry? 3 Ways to Tell
Ouch! Wowee zowee, that hurts! You overdid it. We've all been there, done that. But how do you know whether it's something serious? Should you get hel...
How Do Pain Patches Work to Treat Pain?

video

How Do Pain Patches Work to Treat Pain?
Pain patches contain different medications inside them; when applied to the skin, they deliver pain relief locally to the area. Watch pain management ...
Does Marijuana Help with Chronic Pain?

video

Does Marijuana Help with Chronic Pain?
There is evidence showing that marijuana can help relieve chronic pain related to cancer, HIV and MS, as well as other conditions. In this video, pain...
How Is Fatigue Diagnosed?

video

How Is Fatigue Diagnosed?
Fatigue is a common complaint. In this video, nurse practitioner Marcelle Pick talks about how a fatigue diagnosis is made.