In the past few years, there have been some great findings that point to an amazingly simply way to reduce the pain that you feel. Pain relief can’t come more easily than this: controlling the way you breathe.
Health breakthroughs about here, with research showing that controlled breathing at a slowed rate could significantly reduce feelings of pain. This is especially pertinent for anyone who suffers conditions of chronic pain, and also those who believe in the powers of yoga and tai chi.
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One study, published in the journal “Pain,” found that fibromyalgia patients reported less pain while breathing slowly — that is, unless they were overwhelmed by sadness or depression. These findings may help explain other studies that found that meditation have beneficial effects on pain and that yogic breathing exercises can reduce feelings of depression. These results also underline the role that a person’s positive or negative attitude can have on their feelings of pain.
The study involved two groups of women aged 45 to 65. One group was composed of women previously diagnosed with fibromyalgia,. The other group consisted of healthy controls.
During the trial, women were subjected to moderately painful heat pulses on their palms. The heat pulses were administered while they were breathing at normal rates and when participants reduced their breathing rates by 50%. After each heat pulse, participants were asked to report how intense the pain was, how unpleasant it was, and how their mood was.
The researchers analyzed the participants’ ratings of pain intensity and unpleasantness and found an overall reduction in reported pain when the healthy control participants were paced to breathe slowly. However, fibromyalgia patients benefited from slow breathing only if they reported positive “affect” (mood or emotion).
Elsewhere, another interesting study found that deep and slow breathing techniques could have great use in the treatment of chronic pain syndromes. This type of controlled breathing is a component of various relaxation techniques. They found that the way we choose to inhale has corresponding effects deep inside our bodies regarding pain. The results showed that breathing “decisively influences autonomic and pain processing.” The way we perceive pain is influenced or, in this case, the pain is reduced by deep, slow breathing.
So, don’t ever think you are out of options for pain relief. Breathe deep and relax and take some control back over your quality of life.