Becky’s Pain Tip: Diaphragmatic Breathing

diaphragmatic breathing

I have recently been doing quite a bit of traveling and speaking. Travel can be difficult for those of us who manage pain. One of my favorite tools for travel is diaphragmatic breathing. It is a fast and easy way to calm my whole system. As I breathe deeply, I also am able to pay attention to the areas in my body where I am holding tension. I relax my mind and my body.

To practice diaphragmatic breathing, sit with your feet flat on the floor or lie on your back. Place one hand on your high chest and the other over your rib area (above the belly). As you breathe deeply, your upper chest should be still. You will feel your thoracic cavity expand (rib cage and upper abdomen; not lower belly) as you fully inflate the lungs.

Now exhale completely, pushing the air out with the abdominal muscles. As you exhale, relax your face, shoulders, neck, chest, back, and anything else that is tense.

This becomes easier with practice until you automatically engage the diaphragm when breathing—not just while sitting or lying down. Try deep breathing several times per hour until it becomes a natural part of your life.

Notice what happens to your anxiety, tension, or pain levels as you practice diaphragmatic breathing. It’s the number one tool in my pain toolbox.

About the Author: Kris Sutton

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