Relaxation: Diaphragm Breathing Handout

Relaxation: Diaphragm Breathing Handout


When we have pain or become stressed we can develop a rapid or shallow breathing pattern. This breathing pattern can increase tension in the neck, chest, and shoulders. Overtime, this increased tension can lead to trigger point formations which can produce specific pain patterns.


When trigger points become active they can cause referral pain. Typically, these patterns travel up the neck, and above, around, and along the sides of the head. These pain patterns are often the source of headaches and migraines. Practicing diaphragmatic breathing strategies can decrease the activity and intensity of these trigger points and associated pain patterns. Diaphragmatic breathing is the body’s pain control center which can directly change the chemical-hormone response to stress. Deep breathing can increase the release of natural opiates (morphine and serotonin). It’s important to note belly breathing is NOT diaphragmatic breathing.


  • Lie on your back, with your feet up on a chair or couch. Scoot close to the edge of the chair or couch. Your knees should be relatively directly over your hips. 
  • Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Take an easy breath in through your nose. Imagine directing the air down into the back of your throat then down into your belly. 
  • As you breathe in your belly should raise toward the ceiling slightly. Do not force the air; your breath should be smooth and comfortable. 
  • The amount of time it takes you to breathe out should be 3-5 times longer then what it took you to breathe in. 
  • As you get better in this position, practice your breathing exercise often and in other positions (ie sitting, standing, squatting). 
  • Practice at least 5-10 minutes per day. If possible, start practicing in stressful situations as well. It’s just as important to breath well during happy situations as it is in frustrating situations.



Frownfelter D, Dean E. Principles and Practice of Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapy. 3rd ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby; 1996.
Kolar P, Sulc J, Kyncl M, et al. Postural function of the diaphragm in persons with and without chronic low back pain. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2012;42:352-362.



Have a Question?

Do you have a question about chiropractic care, fitness or nutrition?  We would love to hear from you, and we might even turn your question into our next blog post!

Blog Topics

Crossfit functional chiropractor patriotic ShoeShopping Myofascial Release Pectoralis Muscles rehabilitation rollingpatterns Shoulder Massage Handout Self Help Cupping Therapy Plateau Physical Therapy Equipment Treatment Options Membership Plan Glute Muscles MRI allergies Yoga knee function #somethingsbrewingict DNS crawling Breathing Neurology crossfit elbow pain GoTime mechanics postpartum Education Movement knee pain #HipPain Low Back Pain Health community Healthcare Functional Core inflammation FoamRollingFriday #Running myths running toe functionality Conditioning foot pain Headaches Strain dairy free ICTrunning Pain entrepreneur physical therapy Exercise sports Dry Needling stability Adjustment Rehabilitation motorpatterns Accupuncture squat Rhomboid Muscles test Home Stretches knee joint RunningShoes Chiropractic Myths Orthotics Wet Needling healthcare Recovery #localfarmers tag2 culture muscletherapy kansas #hipstrength Fitness Core Strength Foot Pain gaming Compression Sleeves #Wichita Elbow Pain #wholefoods BeginningExercise plantar fasciitis Foam Rolling chiropractors movement screen bodyawareness Lifting esports Heel Pain Soft Tissue Therapy sara skiles Inner Thigh 2018 Shoulder Pain #RunningPain Shoes Performance #races Pain Management knee health Grand Opening ICT #1millioncupsict Squats Limitation sport injuries Wichita wichita awareness performance treatment options Rolling Patterns Payment #deepsquat doula bodyweight Mid-Back Pain Nerve Pain Taping FootExercise #FootPain health foot complaint Top 5 Hip Flexors tummytime Information childbearing disc herniation Insurance guest blog Cost #freemuscletherapy race seminar lifting development Mechanics #localbusiness parenting Disc Herniation #growingwichita chiropractor membership plan Squat Company Announcements mental health 1MillionCups ChiropracticPhysician Conservative Care orthotics Mobility Drill Running Acupuncture PlantarFasciitis squats chiropractic pain management home stretches WSU Body Awareness Toe Feet Inflammation Adductors FAQ SportsChiropractor conditioning 5K weekend #bellybreathing rhomboid muscles #KneePain adjustment Latissimus Dorsi Healing pregnancy Sprinting Tension

Subscribe to Our Blog

Move HEALTHY.               Feel HEALTHY.              Live HEALTHY.