How to relieve back pain with just breathing

A famous American doctor proposes this simple method to relieve lumbar discomfort


Simple, practical and free. This is the new method to relieve back pain proposed by Andrew Weil, director of Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona and popular physician in the United States. He has been featured twice magazine Time (in 1997 and 2005) and spent a couple of times a program Oprah Winfrey. This expert has long popularized breathing techniques as a way to achieve relaxation, reduce stress and anxiety or simply reduce back pain. The key is to properly inhale and exhale the air with proper posture. The method is known as 4-7-8.

The exercise consists of lying down or sitting with your back straight and supported. Once the proper posture has been achieved, the tip of the tongue should be placed just behind the front teeth, where the palate begins. It should not be performed more than four times a day during the first month.

These are the three steps of therapy:

  • Close your mouth and inhale the air through your nose. Count to four.
  • Hold your breath for seven seconds.
  • Completely exhale the air from your lungs for eight seconds. It is important to make a loud sound while doing it. Now you understand what to 4-7-8?

Guillermo Rodriguez, Head of Sports Medicine Institute, explains that the human body has a muscle “transversus abdominis” (a kind of band that covers from the spine to the linea alba, which is below Of the navel). “It is a very important muscle for lumbopelvic balance and, consequently, for the whole spine. Its main function is to stabilize our position to protect the lumbar area and, also, acts by compressing the viscera of the area of the abdomen. It is an intrinsic muscle of the spine and is also an exhalation muscle which means that it can be detected when the air is expelled, “he deepens.

For this specialist, which describes the Weil is “a method by slow breathing to work that muscle.” And the importance of exhaling all the air is that the transverse should be contracted as much as possible. In his opinion, muscle contraction exercises are a good basis to protect the lower back. “The problem is that by not being in sight, people forget about it and do not exercise them,” he adds.

Andrew Weil explains on his website that “his method, unlike other treatments such as pharmacological, has more effect the more it is practiced.” It also warns that at first it should not be done too many times a day (only two). “When we are accustomed, we can repeat the exercise up to eight times,” he says.

Dr. Francisco Kovacs, who just recently published the book back (Ediciones Temas de Hoy), adds that there are several experimental studies, as published in Alternative Therapy Health Medicine, suggest that in some people with back pain have been Alterations in these reflex mechanisms and different breathing patterns (of those of the healthy people) when making efforts. “There is evidence suggesting that, as a result of these alterations, the variations of the center of gravity that occur during the movement, overloading the musculature of the back, will be compensated worse,” he says. The training and coordination of the inspiratory musculature (diaphragm and deep abdominals) could contribute to improving these aspects. In effect: a breathing exercise against pain.

Kovacs added that certain relaxation techniques that include respiratory training (mindfulness meditation, or mindfulness – yoga, tai chi, chi-Kong, etc.) might have an additional beneficial effect through psychological mechanisms and stress management, facts Would add to the purely muscular ones. “But the only scientific evidence that exists regarding the validity of these theories comes from clinical studies that have been developed with insufficiently rigorous methods to ensure the reliability of their results.” Thus, these tests suggest (but do not demonstrate) potential effectiveness Of these techniques, “he says.


Other effective measures

According to the Web of the Back, postural hygiene has proven to be very inefficient, and only makes sense to consider such measures must be maintained when static and awkward postures a lot of time throughout the day. The most effective remedy is to maintain as much physical activity as possible (even when there is a pain) and to exercise or sport regularly to maintain a sufficiently strong, resistant and well-coordinated muscle. Any exercise is better than none. He also proposes this pair of guidelines:

  • Do not go to the doctor when it is not necessary or does diagnostic tests when they are not indicated; Casual findings induce confusion and error for physicians and increase the risk that patients will end up operated unnecessarily.
  • Do not believe any of the myths that have been passed down for years and have proven to be as false as detrimental to back health.

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