Instantly Relieve Low Back Pain Just by Breathing

By Anna Checket

To make a pretty long story short, chronic low back pain can have a ton of causes, but poor posture and poor breathing habits (many of us have both) are often at the root. Start addressing your postural habits and practice diaphragmatic breathing daily – and it may surprise you just how simple low back pain relief can be.

The diaphragm (a large muscle located in the trunk that plays a major role in breathing) is related to your “core” musculature, and is directly connected to many of the muscles that support the spine. Because of poor postural habits and stress, we can deviate from the proper rhythm and function of the diaphragm. This leads to imbalances and compensations throughout the system and can result in low back muscles that are tense, overworked, and vulnerable to injury.

To practice proper diaphragmatic breath, lie on your back and put one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. On your inhale, aim to make the hand on your belly rise, letting the hand on your chest rise only secondary to your belly. The belly and rib-cage should expand first. To exhale, simply relax entirely and let the breath exit passively. Breath slowly and smoothly. Try the positions shown below. Incorporate ten slow breaths, 3 seconds in/6 seconds out, 2-3 times daily.

client exercise for back pain

Position 1 (above) is best if you are new to this type of breathing. Position 2 (below) can be used as a progression to position 1, if … 1) you breathe into your belly easily 2) your breathing is smooth and not labored

breathing for back pain

If you are actively experiencing a spasm or low-back pain event, a few minutes of diaphragmatic breathing can alleviate symptoms instantly by stimulating circulation around the spine and relieving muscular tension. In addition, diaphragmatic breathing sets the body into a state of de-stress and healing through parasympathetic activation.

This exercise is great as a daily maintenance practice as well, preventing postural imbalance and providing a reset to the system. Use it while taking a break from being seated at your desk or to relax before going to sleep.


Stretch the Hips for Low Back Pain Relief

By Anna Checket

Low back pain is an elusive condition that can have many causes… but most times it has us clutching, well… our low back. However, the source of pain in this region is not always what it seems, and can be caused by dysfunctions in areas of the body we wouldn’t expect. Namely, in the front. Go figure. Your hip flexors (located deep in the front of the hip, and connecting the abdomen, hip and leg) are responsible for what it sounds like – flexing your hip (think folding at the hip, such as in sitting down into a chair). So it would make sense that prolonged seated positions would make this musculature tight and shortened, since your body adapts to repetitive postures (literally re-modeling tissues to reflect what they are asked to do). Tightness of the hip flexors contributes to an imbalance in the body, and causes a compensation pattern at the low back, causing pain. Read more about the consequences of prolonged sitting here. If you sit for long periods of time and also have low back pain, try this hip stretch daily to restore proper balance in the hips.

hip stretch demonstration

  1. Start with your right knee and the ball of your right foot on the floor. The left leg will be flex at 90 degrees in front.
  2. Place both hands on the floor on the inside on your left foot.
  3. Tension your core musculature and gently “press” your hips forward to stretch your hips (quads and hip flexor on the right and the glutes on the left).
  4. Rock your hips back, keeping your hands/fingers on the floor, for a bonus hamstring stretch.
  5. Oscillate slowly back and forth for 30 seconds on both sides.

Repeat 2-5 times daily.