Treatment Interventions

How Can Breathwork Help Me? Disordered Patterns of Breathing

Written by Carron Manning, Co-Founder of Chiron and Chartered Physiotherapist MSc BSc MCSP

Breathwork involves intentional control and manipulation of breathing patterns for various therapeutic purposes. It can be a valuable complementary approach for individuals dealing with chronic pain.

10 ways in which breathwork can help manage chronic pain

Relaxation Response

Deep, slow breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting the relaxation response. This can counteract the stress response associated with chronic pain, leading to a reduction in muscle tension and overall relaxation.

Pain Perception

Breathwork can influence the perception of pain. Focusing on slow, rhythmic breathing can shift attention away from the pain itself, helping individuals develop a more detached and less reactive attitude toward their pain sensations.

Stress Reduction

Chronic pain is often associated with increased stress levels. Breathwork helps regulate the stress response, reducing the release of stress hormones and promoting a sense of calm. This, in turn, can positively impact pain levels and overall well-being. 

Improved Oxygenation

Deep and diaphragmatic breathing enhances oxygenation of the body. Improved oxygen levels can contribute to better overall health and may assist in reducing muscle tension associated with chronic pain.

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Mindfulness and Distraction

Breathwork, especially when combined with mindfulness, provides a tool for distraction from pain. Focusing on the breath in the present moment helps shift attention away from pain-related thoughts and sensations. 

Enhanced Body Awareness

Practicing breathwork fosters increased awareness of the body and its sensations. This heightened awareness can help individuals identify areas of tension, pain triggers, and bodily responses to stress, leading to more effective pain management.

Stimulation of the Vagus Nerve

Certain breathwork techniques, such as diaphragmatic breathing, may stimulate the vagus nerve. Activation of the vagus nerve has been associated with anti-inflammatory effects and improvements in mood, which can be beneficial for individuals with chronic pain.

Empowerment and Self-Regulation

Breathwork provides individuals with a sense of control and empowerment over their physiological responses. Learning and practicing breathwork techniques can empower individuals to participate in their pain management actively.

Enhanced Sleep Quality

Chronic pain often disrupts sleep. Relaxation techniques, including breathwork, can help promote better sleep by calming the nervous system and reducing the impact of pain-related stress. 

Integration with Other Therapies

Breathwork can be easily integrated with other pain management strategies, such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, or cognitive-behavioral therapy. This integration allows for a more comprehensive and holistic approach to chronic pain.

How does breathwork help overall?

Popular breathwork techniques that may benefit chronic pain include diaphragmatic, paced, and mindful breathing. These techniques can be learned and practiced both formally during dedicated sessions and informally as part of daily activities.

Having simple activities such as breathwork to go alongside what your dedicated medical team has prescribed can help as you take control of your pain management and health journey. Chiron encourages a holistic approach and loves that there are simple tools for you to put in your toolbox as you learn and grow.