Hinge Health Now Offers Guided Breathing Exercises: Here’s Why You Should Try Them

Learn about the benefits of breathing for pain relief and why Hinge Health is now offering guided breathing in our digital musculoskeletal (MSK) clinic.

Published Date: Apr 30, 2024

Hinge Health Now Offers Guided Breathing Exercises: Here’s Why You Should Try Them

Learn about the benefits of breathing for pain relief and why Hinge Health is now offering guided breathing in our digital musculoskeletal (MSK) clinic.

Published Date: Apr 30, 2024

Hinge Health Now Offers Guided Breathing Exercises: Here’s Why You Should Try Them

Learn about the benefits of breathing for pain relief and why Hinge Health is now offering guided breathing in our digital musculoskeletal (MSK) clinic.

Published Date: Apr 30, 2024

Hinge Health Now Offers Guided Breathing Exercises: Here’s Why You Should Try Them

Learn about the benefits of breathing for pain relief and why Hinge Health is now offering guided breathing in our digital musculoskeletal (MSK) clinic.

Published Date: Apr 30, 2024
Table of Contents

Calm down. Just breathe. Relax. There's a good reason people share this well-worn advice during times of stress and duress. 

Breathing deeply turns on the body’s relaxation response, which triggers a cascade of physical and mental reactions that bring you back to a calm state with less pain. At Hinge Health — a digital clinic for joint and muscle care — we know that the most effective treatments for musculoskeletal pain (including pelvic health issues) must address the body and the mind. 

This is why some Hinge Health programs now include guided breathing sessions as part of a member’s treatment toolkit. Based on the latest pain science and psychologically informed physical therapy, these sessions provide another way to heal and reduce the pain and other symptoms getting in the way of your life. 

“Hinge Health’s personalized exercise therapy plans have for years been helping members significantly reduce their pain and get back to doing the activities they love. But traditional physical therapy ‘exercises’ are only one part of the story,” says Maureen Lu, PT, DPT, a physical therapist at Hinge Health and pain specialist who designed the guided breathing sessions. “Practicing different techniques to calm your nervous system and relax your body is also a critical part of managing persistent pain. And it’s one that most physical therapy programs and products sorely overlook.”

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Our Hinge Health Experts

Maureen Lu, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist and Clinical Reviewer
Dr. Lu is a Hinge Health physical therapist and board-certified orthopedic clinical specialist with over 17 years of clinical experience.
Kandis Daroski, PT, DPT
Pelvic Health Physical Therapist and Clinical Reviewer
Dr. Daroski is a pelvic health physical therapist who provides clinical expertise for the Hinge Health Women's Pelvic Health Program.

What Are Guided Breathing Sessions?

A guided breathing session at Hinge Health is a short audio recording you listen to and follow along. Created and narrated by mindfulness instructors and physical therapists with special training in psychologically informed care, each breathing session starts with a written and audio introduction of what you will learn during the session, and then seamlessly transitions to a short guided breathing exercise accompanied by a calming soundscape. By following along with the instruction, you adjust your breathing pattern, practice mindfulness, and activate your body’s relaxation response. You also learn new ways to think about your pain and other symptoms, while pursuing the things you value most.

Hinge Health guided breathing sessions are available to members in the Women's Pelvic Health Program and to members with high levels of chronic musculoskeletal pain. 

Each breathing session focuses on specific goals or issues that members use Hinge Health to improve, including:

  • High-pain days

  • Understanding pain triggers

  • Motivation and confidence for movement

  • Specific techniques like box breathing, 4-7-8 breathing, and diaphragmatic breathing

Other sessions focus specifically on pelvic symptoms and life stages, such as:

  • Pelvic pain

  • Connecting with your core

  • Painful sex

  • Preparing for birth

  • Bladder and bowel health

  • Menopause support

How Do I Know This Works?

Extensive evidence shows that persistent pain — like low back pain or pelvic pain that comes and goes — is not just a physical issue. Pain is what we at Hinge Health call biopsychosocial, which means that physical, psychological, and social factors all affect how we experience pain. Treating only the so-called “physical” causes — say, with ice and heat, pain medication, braces, or even surgeries — doesn’t address the other factors, like high levels of stress,fear or trauma, not enough sleep, or concerns about your family or finances.  

That’s where breathing can play an important role. 

This controlled breathing encompasses the many different types of breathing exercises we may be familiar with today like diaphragmatic breathing, 4-7-8 breathing, box breathing, cyclic sighing with prolonged exhalations, and more. It has a highly therapeutic effect on persistent pain and has been backed by a lot of research. For example, research in the journal Medicines found that deep breathing significantly reduced the intensity of persistent pain and feelings of tension, anger, and depression. It’s also been shown to:

  • Lower heart rate and blood pressure

  • Reduce stress

  • Relax muscles

  • Increase oxygen into the lungs and body

  • Provide a positive distraction from pain

  • Interrupt negative thought patterns

It’s important to note that breathing is not meant to remove all sources of stress or prevent life’s challenges. But a breathing practice in your routine can help you learn how to approach stressors in a healthy way and increase your resilience to pain flare ups over time.

“Many Hinge Health members find guided breathing particularly helpful during times when pain is interfering with their ability to sleep or get through challenging parts of their day,” says Dr. Lu. “Taking 5 to 10 minutes with one of our breathing exercises can physically help your body feel calmer and more at ease and mentally help you feel more clear and confident. A guided breathing session is also a great way to ease into your daily exercise therapy during pain flares.”

How Is This Different from Meditation Apps?

There’s certainly no shortage of apps, online videos, and other tools that offer breathing and meditation practice. What’s unique about the guided breathing exercises from Hinge Health: They are specifically designed for the symptoms and issues our members care about most. 

“Whether we’re addressing trouble sleeping, mood issues, or bladder or pelvic health struggles, our breathing exercises are developed by physical therapists and mindfulness experts who understand how pain and other symptoms interact with a person’s overall lifestyle and mental health,” says Dr. Lu. 

Our library of exercises uses evidence-based approaches that include pain neuroscience education (PNE), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy, (ACT), and mindfulness based stress reduction, all through the lens of self-compassion.

How Can I Find Them in My App?

Hinge Health guided breathing sessions are currently available to members with high levels of chronic musculoskeletal pain and to all members in our pelvic health program. You can find them in the “Guided breathing” section in your Library tab, located at the bottom of your app.

What Hinge Health Members Have to Say

A member in our muscle and joint pain program has told us when they experienced a pain flare in their back, the guided breathing exercise “was exactly what I needed in my pain management today.” Other members have shared similar experiences:

  • “I am so glad these meditations are part of the program now!”

  • “I'll have to remember this when I get stressed, it was very relaxing.”

  • “When I focus on breathing, I forget the world. A lot of times I forget to breathe. Good reminder.”

  • “Very good guided meditation to help you actually recognize your pelvic muscles.”

  • “I need more practice with this breathing technique to relax my mind and pelvic muscles. I’m going to practice when I use the toilet.”

  • “This was awesome!!! I am super excited that Hinge Health has developed this program to help women in the menopausal phase of life. It's typically a phase that isn't given much attention to. THANK YOU!!!!”

  • “The speaker has one of the BEST voices I’ve ever heard leading a meditation! It was very easy to relax and at the same time actually listen to and understand what she was saying.”

How Hinge Health Can Help You

If you have joint or muscle pain that makes it hard to move, you can get the relief you’ve been looking for with Hinge Health’s online exercise therapy program.

The best part: You don’t have to leave your home because our program is digital. That means you can easily get the care you need through our app, when and where it works for you.

Through our program, you’ll have access to therapeutic exercises and stretches for your condition. Additionally, you’ll have a personal care team to guide, support, and tailor our program to you.

See if you qualify for Hinge Health and confirm free coverage through your employer or benefit plan here.

This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.

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References

  1. Hamasaki, H. (2020). Effects of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Health: A Narrative Review. Medicines, 7(10), 65. doi:10.3390/medicines7100065