Deep Breathing for Pain Relief

Wouldn’t it be nice if the next time you find yourself in pain you had a fast-acting, totally safe and 100% free natural medicine right next to you? Guess what. You already do.

Take a dose by slowly inhaling a deep breath of fresh air. Slowly let it out. There. Feel a little better already, don’t you?

Chronic oxygen deprivation from poor breathing is a frequent contributor to aches and pains. When this happens our body literally screams out for more oxygen by sending pain signals.

Fortunately, a quick pick-me-up from feeling sluggish or fast relief of arthritis pain, back pain,
and many other aches can be had with just a few minutes of deep breathing.

Common Benefits of Deep Breathing

  • Deep breathing maximizes your breathing capacity.
  • Deep breathing delivers greater amounts of oxygen to your body more quickly.
  • Deep breathing can calm you down and help you control stress.
  • Deep breathing can stimulate your lungs and lymphatic system.

Sometimes called abdominal breathing or diaphragmatic breathing because of how the abdomen is used to allow a full lung intake of air, deep breathing is the kind of breathing taught to yoga practitioners. The funny thing is this is simply getting back to the way we started.

When we’re first born, deep breathing comes naturally. Just watch any infant lying peacefully asleep on her back and you’ll see her belly rise and fall with each breath. Babies naturally take full deep breaths.

As we grow older and begin to hold unnatural positions for long periods of time, our body adapts to the new posture. But it often negatively affects our breathing patterns. Most people tend to sit hunched over and take shallow breaths. This leads to shallow breathing.

Deep breathing techniques simply teach you to expand from the abdomen to get more oxygen. Practiced on a routine basis, deep breathing can become an acquired behavior which returns us to our natural-born healthy state of breathing..

Examine Your Own Breathing

Have you ever taken the time to determine what kind of breather you are? Do you breathe mostly through your mouth or nose? Do you tend to expand from the belly or the chest? You can tell by placing a hand on your chest and your abdomen. The hand that moves first will tell you which area of your body expands as you take a breath.

Determining whether you breathe mostly through your nose or mouth can be as simple as asking your significant other or the coworker next to you. If you tend to breathe shallowly and mostly with your mouth, you can still train yourself to breathe more fully. Using deep breathing exercises routinely–not just when you feel pain–can help prevent discomfort caused by low oxygen levels.

Deep Breathing for Pain Relief

Muscle and Joint Pain:

For many sufferers of arthritis, controlled breathing can bring welcome relief from pain. Deep breathing stimulates blood flow and can help bring more oxygen to your muscles and joints. You might find it helpful to count in your head as you breathe to keep your respiration rhythmic. For example, as you inhale keep time by saying to yourself, “In, two, three…”; Then, as you exhale, say, “Out, two, three, four…”


Headaches can be brought on by a number of things including eye strain, sensitivity to light and sound, and conditions like sinusitis. Deep breathing can be used to help minimize headache pain and reduce stress. Many practitioners of deep breathing exercises use abdominal breathing to not only manage headache pain, but also as an aid to prevent migraines.

Labor Pains:

Women have practiced breathing techniques for centuries in order to help minimize labor pains. Today, Lamaze classes teach a short, fast pattern of inhalation followed by a longer exhalation (hee-hee-hoooo) while the Bradley method focuses on relaxed deep breathing. Both methods increase the amount of oxygen received and decreases pain and tension throughout the labor. Some women find a combination of both breathing techniques work best, using the Lamaze technique during contractions and the Bradley method between contractions when deep breathing becomes easier.

How to Perform Deep Breathing Exercises

When practicing deep breathing exercises, it is a good idea to wear comfortable clothing that isn’t tight or overly restrictive. This gives you the chance to expand your body naturally without feeling constricted.

To begin, take slow, measured breaths. Inhale through your nostrils. Instead of expanding at the chest, concentrate on expanding from your abdomen. Place your hand on your abdomen if it helps you focus. Pause for just a second, and then slowly exhale. As you exhale focus on controlling your breath so that air leaves your body steadily. You will generally find that you exhale for a longer amount of time than you inhale.

Repeat these breathing techniques for several minutes each day. The more frequently you practice deep breathing, the more likely you are to revert to it throughout the course of your day. Set aside several minutes each day for deep breathing and take time out to practice it whenever you notice aches and pains developing.

Taking the time to practice controlled deep abdominal breathing is a simple way you can manage and relieve pain while reducing the amount of medicine you take on a daily basis. For extreme pain, pain that continues to increase in intensity, or pain that makes breathing difficult, it is still a good idea to seek professional help.

Filed Under: Pain Relief
Written By:  Updated:
my avatar

Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFT

Jesse is the co-founder and visionary CEO of The Healthy Back Institute®, the world-leading source of natural back pain solutions. His mission as a former back pain sufferer is to help others live pain free without surgery and pharmaceuticals.

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5 thoughts on “Deep Breathing for Pain Relief”

  1. Bob Hope says:

    I would like to read about Pain Relief for Diabetic Neuropathy!

  2. basharat says:

    these are really good tips but i want to know whether they are good for the person who has undergone heart surgery(CABG).

  3. Admin says:

    Hi Basharat,

    Thank you for your post and query.

    Although they do read and monitor this blog, you would be best asking your specific question about heart surgery via the link below using one of the support options. There, more personal support questions are considered with more privacy than on a public blog.

    Our Customer Support

    Thank you

  4. Dan says:

    Breathe in and out through your abdomen?

    1. Steven HBI-Staff says:

      Dan, there are many different styles in the way one can breathe, for relaxation but all most of all of them, focus on slow can controlled use of the abdomen. It does not matter to me if you breathe through the nose or mouth just as long as you draw air in with the extension of the abdomen and then just let the abdomen relax and repeat.


      Steve HBI-Staff

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