Muscle stretching with deep and slow breathing patterns: a pilot study for therapeutic development

J Complement Integr Med. 2018 Aug 22;16(2):/j/jcim.2019.16.issue-2/jcim-2017-0167/jcim-2017-0167.xml. doi: 10.1515/jcim-2017-0167.


Background Chronic neck pain is frequently found in office workers affecting quality of life; also, stress is one participating factor. Though stretching incorporating deep-slow breathing (DSB) has benefits on health, an effective and suitable technique for office workers to perform in the workplace is a gap in need of fulfilment. Methods We explored the effective pattern of stretching with DSB to reduce neck tension and promote relaxation within the shortest time. Thirty-two female participants with neck tension were allocated into two steps totaling five patterns (n=8 for each pattern). Firstly, they performed two patterns; two other patterns were developed and compared with DSB alone. Muscle tension, pain score, and heart rate variability (HRV) were immediately measured. Results All patterns performed with the eyes closed decreased muscle tension more than those performed with the eyes open; the pain amid all stretching groups subsequently decreased. Only a bout of slow stretching, performed synchronously with the eyes closed along with a period of deep inhalation increased the parasympathetic activity of HRV; an increase in pain was reported after stretching. Conclusions A slowed and synchronized pattern between stretching with DSB and eyes closed period, performed at least four times repeatedly rendered benefits in reducing neck pain and tension, in addition to promoting relaxation within a short period; however, the DSB pattern and the feeling of the stretched muscle to promote relaxation were individual differences. Thus, future studies should come up with apposite training methods adjusted to fit individuals; self-awareness toward these aspects ought to be encouraged.

Keywords: alternative therapy; health prevention; intervention development; mindfulness; self-awareness.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breathing Exercises*
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Relaxation
  • Neck Pain / physiopathology
  • Neck Pain / psychology
  • Neck Pain / therapy*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Quality of Life
  • Relaxation
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult