Relieve Back Pain with a Simple Breathing Technique

We recommend you perform this technique twice a day. If the second time is just before going to sleep, it will help you to feel more relaxed and to fall into a deeper sleep.
Relieve Back Pain with a Simple Breathing Technique
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 27 May, 2022

Is it possible to relieve back pain through a breathing technique? If you suffer from this ailment, you may be surprised.

It’s common to find relief for back pain after taking a painkiller or an anti-inflammatory. Massages from a physiotherapist are also very effective in these cases. However, could a breathing technique do the same?

We know that yoga is very therapeutic for all those who suffer from back pain. Exercising our body by doing certain stretches and using our breathing always relieves pain and gives us a little more mobility.

In this article, we’re going to tell you about a technique developed by Andrew Weill, director of medicine at the University of Arizona (United States), which helps us to relieve this very common ailment.

It’s simple, inexpensive and non-invasive, so will you join us in getting to know this simple breathing exercise?

Can breathing relieve back pain?

Before we show you how this breathing technique works, we want to delve a little deeper into the question of whether it can be effective or not, taking into account the opinion of experts:

  • The Avanfi Institute of Traumatology and Physiotherapy in Madrid (Spain) explains that the human body has a muscle called “transversus abdominis”. Its purpose is to provide stability in the area between the back, abdomen, and pelvis.
  • It’s like a kind of belt that surrounds us from the navel to the spine.
  • The purpose of this muscle is to give us stability in our posture and to protect our back.
  • This muscle squeezes the viscera of our abdomen, so that, every time we breathe, it exerts a movement of “fixation” to the back and throughout our body It’s also part of the exhalation of air during breathing.
  • While moderate exercise and breathing techniques are effective in relieving back pain, it is also interesting to know more natural alternatives to alleviate the suffering.

Breathing can indeed relieve back pain

  • Whenever we perform a slow type of breathing, we’ll exercise the movement and resistance of this central muscle of our abdomen, which goes from the navel to the spine, and we’ll be able to relieve back pain.
  • The secret is to know how to exhale, that is, to expel the air, when this muscle moves. We must release all the air as much as possible, until we feel that it’s squeezing us.
  • The contraction of this muscle is very effective to protect the lumbar area.

4-7-8 technique to relieve back pain

Aspects that you should take into account

This exercise will have more effect the more often we practice it. That is to say, the first day it will relax you, the second day it will make you feel rested and lighter and, on the third day, you will notice a clear reduction in back pain.

You should do it every day. It won’t take you more than 5 minutes.

Never repeat it more than twice a day. It’s a very good idea to do the second one before going to sleep. This will help you to feel more relaxed and you’ll fall into a deeper sleep.

How to do the 4-7-8 technique to relieve back pain

  • Put on comfortable clothes that don’t restrict you.
  • Sit in a place with a firm base where you can also lay your back comfortably.
  • Close your mouth and inhale air through your nose deeply for 4 seconds.
  • Now hold your breath for 7 seconds.
  • Now you should exhale (blow out) that air from your lungs for 8 seconds. This is the most important part, where we exercise the transverse abdominis muscle and that will help us to relieve back pain.
  • Repeat it 4 times (two sessions a day).

Other tips, relaxation techniques, and exercises that can be useful

  • Meditation to control stress and anxiety.
  • Yoga and tai chi are suitable for relieving back pain.
  • Swimming.
  • Walking every day for half an hour.
  • Don’t stay in the same position for a long time.
  • Don’t bend your back when you have to pick something up from the floor: bend your knees.
  • The mattress of your bed should be neither too hard nor too soft; it should adapt to your movements, with a low pillow and light bedding.
  • Never sleep on your stomach, as this will force you to bend your head to breathe and you’ll get neck and back pain. The best position? The fetal position.
  • Never carry too much weight in your bags.
  • Avoid being overweight.
  • Always avoid self-medication. It’s common for back pain to cause us to resort immediately to anti-inflammatory drugs, which can have different side effects.

In case of any discomfort, go to a professional to explain the origin of the ailment. Follow their advice and always remember to maintain good postural hygiene when you’re working or even at this very moment, when you’re reading the article on your mobile or laptop. How are you sitting?

Take care of your back and put these simple breathing tips into practice!

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.