Physiological Effects of Mindful, Deep Breathing on Patients with Rotator Cuff Disorders

Erica Haven, Autumn Jensen, Sanya Kathuria & Matthew Sanville, “Physiological Effects of Mindful, Deep Breathing on Patients with Rotator Cuff Disorders”
Mentors: Bhagwant Sindhu & Elizabeth Liedhegner, Occupational Science & Technology

Mindfulness practices have become increasingly relevant since societal expectations can readily detach people from maintaining awareness in the moment, allowing the mind and body to heal together. Preliminary findings suggest that engaging in deep breathing exercises within the practice of mindfulness may effectively expedite the process of rehabilitating rotator cuff disorders post-surgical repair. To date, there are no studies addressing how quickly one can resume independent activities of daily living from rotator cuff injuries utilizing mindfulness techniques. Expert Jon Kabat Zinn defines mindfulness as, “the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally”. Our collaborative team is proposing that practicing mindfulness in addition to usual care, may speed up healing post-surgical repair of the rotator cuff. The purpose of this study is to conduct a literature review to examine the effect of mindfulness through deep breathing exercises on healing post-surgery. Because one of the major barriers to healing is inflammation, our search terms included breathing and inflammatory markers. Research from literature reviews show several physiological effects can be achieved through practicing deep breathing, modifying inhalation/exhalation from the average of 12-15 breaths per minute to an extended six breaths per minute. Six breaths per minute optimizes the sympathetic/parasympathetic nervous system output, mitigating systemic inflammation. In this state there is an improvement in cardiovascular functioning, reduction of stress responses, inflammation, and increased functioning of the immune system. With the use of breathing classes, videos and wearable technology, an optimal modification of breath may be achieved. Together, this research has shown the potential of mindful breathing to enhance healing and facilitate recovery of rotator cuff disorders post-surgical repair. This study has critical importance for further extensive research.


  1. Hello Autumn.

    Thank you for sharing your project through this symposium. I know that the concept of mindfulness in regards to health and wellness is a very relevant topic, and your literature review on its relationship to sleep for people with rotator cuff injuries was very interesting. The design style that you used for your poster made the content very easy to follow and understand. I also appreciated your insight into the need for further research given the limited data that is currently available. Great work!

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