How Breathing Functionally May Ease Low Back Pain

Updated: Mar 14

At university, I conducted an experiement to determine if re-education to a normal breathing pattern improves lumbopelvic stability (core stability)- my dissertation.

Plenty of research shows that increasing core stability can help to reduce low back pain.

Background: Dysfunctional breathing has been identified as common among the general public. Historically, low back pain has been reported as the most common presenting complaint on visits to Osteopaths. Research has shown that there is a link between lumbopelvic stability and normal breathing.

Objective: To perform an experimental pilot study on Osteopathy students at Surrey Institute of Osteopathic Medicine (SIOM) to determine if re-education to a normal breathing pattern improves lumbopelvic stability.

Methods: The active straight leg raise test was conducted and a questionnaire was used to indicate levels of ease for an indication of lumbopelvic stability before and after breathing re-education of participants. Osteopathy students were recruited in a convenience sample, consisting of 10 participants (5 male and 5 female). A control group was recruited using the same number of individuals (5 male and 5 female) with no breathing re-education applied for comparison.

Results: Breathing re-education to a normal breathing pattern improved ASLR test scores. A statistically significant increase in ASLR test scores for the participant group before and after re-education compared with the control group was found (p=0.008 for both the left and right legs for the participant, p=0.37 and 0.157 for the left and right legs respectively for the control group). It was also apparent through observation that participants responded well to breathing re-education.

Conclusions: There is a potential for breathing re-education to improve lumbopelvic stability and address low back pain. Further work is required to identify the relationships between lumbopelvic stability, low back pain and breathing patterns.

Key Words: Normal breathing, dysfunctional breathing, breathing re-education, lumbopelvic stability, low back pain, Active Straight Leg Raise.

So there it is folks- breathing functionally can help to reduce low back pain!

Diaphragmatic breathing has also been proven to strengthen the lungs and relieve anxiety.

Therefore, since university, I have always incorporated this type of breath work into my patient's exercise precription and I have also taught it at my Wellness workshops.

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