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Information on this and linked website does not necessarily infer endorsement by the Fibromyalgia Support for Worthing and West Sussex.
Any advice or recommendation of a medical or legal nature must always be discussed with a qualified professional.

Registered Charity 1042582

affiliated with FMA UK

webmaster Pete MacKean

January 2014

Self Care

Breathing Correctly

Breathing Exercises:

As a race a lot of us do not breath to their full capacity & this can create other health issues. When doing exercises it is important you breath correctly and to your full capacity. If not followed through it can create dizziness, fainting, breathlessness and disorientation.

Fibromyalgia sufferers often report that they have trouble breathing or taking deep breathes. Combined with the many other fibromyalgia symptoms commonly experienced, like chronic headaches, having a hard time breathing is just one more thing you don’t want to deal with. But why can it be difficult for fibromyalgia patients to breathe and why does it affect your other symptoms? Learning the answers and how to alleviate breathing problems can help you breath easy again.

Why you have difficulty breathing?

Studies have shown that shortness of breath, or feeling a strong need for more air, is common in fibromyalgia patients. Some research has shown 50% of FMS patients  feel short of breath, a condition called Dyspnea. Another theory that has been written about as to why FMS patients experiencing lack of breath  suggests that our brain stem abnormalities could account for dyspnea. Another suggestion was having low blood flow in the brain stem region of patients with fibromyalgia.

Another idea behind dyspnea is that it could result from a lack of thyroid hormone regulation. This results in weakness of the respiratory muscles, including the diaphragm and the phrenic nerves, which regulate the contractions of the diaphragm. The nerves might not be sending strong enough signals to the diaphragm, impairing its ability to contract normally.

Chaotic Breathing

Chaotic breathing is one of the vicious cycles that fibromyalgia patients can experience. There are reports claiming that more than 50% of patients with fibromyalgia experience disordered breathing patterns.

In general, FMS patients tend to take very small, rapid breaths, using only the small muscles of their chests. Unfortunately, most people do not realize it and therefore don’t take steps to practice slow, deep breathing, using the large muscles of the abdomen, which is typically the more desirable method of breathing. While deep breathing has a calming effect on an individual, shallow, disordered breathing makes people feel tense and anxious, which could worsen your fibromyalgia pain. It could also worsen sleep disorders.

This tendency to take only shallow breaths could be a result of pain in your ribcage or chest. Feeling a stabbing pain every time you take a deep breath would obviously be a deterrent, whether conscious or unconsciously, to breathing deeply.


Learning how to breathe correctly is a good step towards alleviating this problem. Everyone thinks they know how to breathe because we all do it constantly, but most of us are actually breathing the wrong way. When you take a deep breath, your stomach should expand outwards, instead of sucking in the way most people do.

Try this exercise to get breathing the right way:

  • Lie down on your back in a comfortable position
  • Place your hand on your stomach, just below your belly button
  • Take a deep breath in through your nose and hold it for a moment
  • Slowly exhale, through your nose
  • When you think you have let out all of the air, open your mouth and let the rest out

How much air was let out when you exhaled the second time? If there was any, chances you’re not making full use of your diaphragm (the muscle at the base of the lungs) when you’re breathing, meaning that you are breathing shallowly. When you breath "from the belly" and use your diaphragm, your body gets more oxygen and can get rid of more built up waste gases.

Eastern medicines teach that the body’s flow of energy, or chi, can be blocked by improper breathing techniques. Qi gong (pronounced "gee gung") meaning breath force, is a system of exercises aimed at improving the breathing and the body’s flow of chi. Learning Qi gong could be beneficial to FMS patients who have breathing trouble.