Breathing Control When Lifting Is Important – Research Shows This Is Likely – Southampton Chiropractors At The Avenue Clinic Recommend You Breathe Correctly When Lifting

Breathing control in Low Back Pain (LBP) patients during a

simple physical task.

Publication Information: Lamberg EM & Hagins M. The effects of low back pain on breath control during a lowering task. Eur J Appl Physiol 2012;

112: 3519-3524.

Summary: The relevance of breathing patterns in low back pain (LBP)

patients is an area of increasing interest…a chicken and egg

scenario that remains unresolved. In an occupational setting,

preventive and rehabilitative efforts relative to LBP and manual

material handling are often directed toward proper technique

(during lifting and lowering, for example).

lifting box


Breath control may be an additional factor to consider. Optimizing breath

control may provide increased segmental control of the spine through the

production of increased intra-abdominal pressure. In this study,

32 subjects with LBP and aged-matched healthy individuals (n =

30) lowered a crate from a table to the floor four times with the

crate empty and four times with the crate loaded at 25% of body

weight. The amount of volume in the lungs as a percentage of

each individual’s vital capacity (VC) was identified at nine points

during the lowering task.


Subjects with LBP completed the lowering task with significantly

more volume in their lungs (45.9% VC) than their healthy

counterparts (40.9% VC). Further, with increasing age, %VC

significantly increased in those with LBP. In addition, %VC

significantly increased in response to the mechanical challenges

introduced when lowering a load.


Comments: Although further research is required, the findings in this

study suggest that those with LBP employ different breathing

strategies during a lowering task. Further research could

investigate different aspects of breathing (EMG patterns, intraabdominal

pressure?), but these results do support the

theoretical link between breath control and lumbar segmental

control, while providing preliminary evidence supporting

rehabilitative efforts which add a focus on breath control for

those with LBP.