A simple guide to breathing and stretching to reduce pain
It is not a coincidence that yoga and breathing techniques are intimately linked. Most people hold their breath when they stretch. These breathing techniques can help relieve pain.
Breathe while stretching
By remembering to inhale and exhale slowly, we keep the flow of oxygen to our muscles, and we relax, while allowing our muscles to stretch further.
Here are three ways to breathe while exercising, including stretching. Combining them will help you stay relaxed and reduce shortness of breath.
- Breathe through the nose: This warms and humidifies the air, a nice feature in cold, dry air, and also reduces the amount of air pollutants that your lungs absorb.
- Diaphragmatic breathing: People in pain tend to breathe superficially. Breathing deeply, you fill your lungs with air, bringing more oxygen to the brain and throughout your body. Exercise: inhale slowly through the nose as your abdomen – not your chest – expands, inspiring as much as you can. Hold your breath, then exhale as you stretch, emptying your lungs completely. Try to take three breaths with each stretch.
- Breathe with pinched lips: Breathe through the nose, swelling your abdomen, following the two previous techniques, and exhale by pursing your lips longer than your inspiration.
Stretch to improve flexibility
Even people with no chronic pain lose 5% of their flexibility every decade. Pain tends to your body, a normal muscle reflex to protect itself. The tension of a single muscle can affect the whole body: a tense calf, for example, can cause knee, shin or foot pain.
- When you do not move, tense muscles tighten, says physiotherapist Christine Zampach. “You have to reverse that process and teach the body to lower their guard and return to their normal balance.”
- Stretching improves circulation by increasing blood flow in painful areas, which speeds healing.
- Stretching also improves your posture, keeping your body well aligned so that no part is working too much.
- Fortunately, it is not necessary to be rubber to try to stretch. Indeed, the flexibility is innate. If you could not touch your toes at age 20, you probably will not be able to touch them.
- The ideal is to reach a happy medium, where your muscles, ligaments and tendons are tight enough for your maintain, but flexible enough so that you can keep the same range of motion of your youth.
Stretching and breathing exercises are essential to any healthy and active lifestyle. Try to incorporate these tips into your daily life: Stretching is perfect before, during, and after a workout, but also while sitting at your desk or on the subway.