The Earth is composed of more than 100 elements, the most abundant of which is oxygen. Oxygen is essential to the survival of all living matter. We can live without food for weeks and without water for days, but take away our supply of oxygen for just 4 minutes and death is almost assured.

For athletes a lack of oxygen will severely hamper performance by causing an increase in lactic acid in the muscles and a loss of energy. Without sufficient oxygen, your muscles will reduce glucose into lactate and release hydrogen ions into the muscles, leading to pain, cramps, and fatigue.

One of simplest and most effectual secrets to alleviating pain is to breathe deeply. The odd thing is that most of us do exactly the contrary when we feel pain— we breathe shallowly. This reflex reaction we use to try to numb our feeling of the pain. Sadly, it doesn’t help. However deep breathing does!

Oxygen and Muscle Aches & Pains

Pain management professionals stress deep breathing as a self help method to chronic pain relief. If you concentrate on breathing very slowly and deeply when you have a headache, neck ache, backache or other type of chronic pain, you’ll be amazed at how much it can be eased by 5-15 minutes of deep breathing.

Here are at least three good reasons why deep breathing works. First, deep breathing floods the body with oxygen, which neutralizes toxins and acid wastes and improves overall tissue function.

Secondly, deep breathing pumps the lymphatics, so it works much like rubbing or holding an injured area. Deep breathing moves fluid out of the tissues and into the lymphatics, resulting in better oxygen and nutrient exchange at the tissue level.

Finally, deep breathing reduces stress and muscle tension. Since stress and muscle tension increase pain, helping to relax the body helps to ease pain. Again, we tend to “tense up” when we feel pain, which actually makes the pain worse, not better.