Breathing Exercises Recommended By Physiotherapists To Improve Lung Function

A normal level of oxygen is usually in the range of 95% or above.

We all are universal witnesses of the ongoing COVID pandemic, which has affected almost all the countries in the world. A recent article in the Archivos De Bronconeumologia, stated that about 20% of patients develop COVID pneumonia and some patient’s exhibit lung function abnormalities upon discharge up to 3 months post discharge or soon after.

Many patients have suffered from the effects of Covid in terms of impairments and disability; some of the examples are post-Covid fatigue syndrome, dyspnoea or breathlessness, muscle weakness, reduction in the functional capacity of an individual and many more. The most common problem is breathing difficulty after lung involvement in Covid. Hence some of the breathing exercises which are being taught by the Physiotherapists are a great help to the patients to improve their lung capacity.

The breathing exercises include diaphragmatic breathing exercise, segmental breathing exercise and sometimes pursed-lip breathing exercise have helped the patient for the better oxygen exchange and to maintain the proper oxygen level in the body. Further, it also helps to keep the patency of the airway to prevent dyspnoea and breathlessness. A normal level of oxygen is usually in the range of 95% or above.

Many patients have benefitted from the proning therapy and deep breathing exercise. When the level of oxygen saturation gets reduced, it is observed that it gets improved within a very short period by these methods.

There are certain breathing exercises, which will improve the lung functions and overall health of the patients. While doing any breathing exercise, a person should be relaxed and comfortable. Clothes should be loose and allow the movement for breathing exercises.

1. Diaphragmatic breathing exercise:

A person should be in crook lying or semi crook lying position, the patient should do deep breathing through the nose and during the inspiration the upper abdomen and the lower chest should rise up and reverse will happen in expiration. Breathing should not be forceful at any point. This will improve the level of oxygen in blood and breathing pattern will be improved.

2. Segmental expansion breathing exercise:

These breathing exercises are helpful to expand the specific areas of the lungs, so they would be helpful in the conditions like lung fibrosis. The patient has to keep the hand on the area which he/she wants to expand, apply gentle pressure downward and inside at the end stage of exhalation and then the patient has to do deep breathing. During deep inspiration there should not be any pressure to be applied; the patient just has to keep his/her hands over that area.

3. Pursed lip breathing exercise:

This is a strategy to relieve the dyspnoea by pursing the lips together during controlled exhalation. There are significant health benefits for patients who practices pursed lip breathing exercise. It significantly improves exercise tolerance, breathing patterns and the level of oxygen in the blood.

All these breathing exercises are very helpful in many respiratory diseases like COPD, Asthma, restrictive lung disease and in Covid patients also.

Apart from these exercises, there are some dyspnoea relieving strategies that reduces breathlessness like the controlled breathing technique, pacing technique and dyspnoea relieving positions in sitting and standing. Integrating all these breathing exercise and rehabilitation for the COVID patients in Physiotherapy OPD and it has given good results in the recovery of patients.

In conclusion, there are many proven scientific evidence available which states that breathing exercise is very helpful in many respiratory diseases and in COVID management and rehabilitation.

About the author - 

The author is currently the Principal faculty of physiotherapy at Marwadi University and his interest and expertise is in the treatment of patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases (COPD) and their rehabilitation.

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