Diaphragmatic breathing Your diaphragm helps draw air deep

Diaphragmatic breathing

Your diaphragm helps draw air deep into your lungs when it expands and

helps force air out of your lungs when it contracts. Many people don’t use

their diaphragm consciously because they don’t need to; in normal breath-

ing, a person may not even be aware of the movement of the diaphragm. But

when you have COPD, you have a hard time getting air out of the bottom of

your lungs, and learning how to do diaphragmatic breathing can help.

You can do this form of breathing lying down or sitting up. It may be easier

for you to do it sitting up, because lying down, especially after eating, can put

more pressure on your lungs and make breathing more difficult by removing

the assistance of gravity. If you’re more comfortable, use pillows to prop

yourself up in your chair.

Here are the steps in diaphragmatic breathing

  1. Sit in a comfortable position and relax the muscles in your shoulders

and neck.

  1. Place one hand on your stomach and the other hand on your chest.

  2. Breathe in through your nose for a count of three.

You should be able to feel your abdomen expand, but your chest should

stay still.

  1. Exhale for a count of six, contracting the muscles in your abdomen to

help force the air out of your lungs.

Again, your chest should stay still.

If you find this technique helps you feel more relaxed and less breathless, try

to build it into your daily routine. Two or three times a day, for twenty minutes

at a time, is the usual recommended schedule.

Breathing bending forward

Some people find it’s most comfortable for them

to take deep breaths while standing and bending

forward slightly. This position — standing and

bending slightly at the waist — may help the

diaphragm move more easily; bending forward

when you’re sitting actually may constrict your

diaphragm’s movement. You can try doing

pursed-lip breathing while you’re bending for-

ward, too.

If you have trouble with balance or equilibrium,

make sure you have something to lean on when

you try bending forward to breathe. Bracing

yourself against your kitchen table or a counter-

top or even the back of a chair can provide

enough support to let you concentrate on breath-

ing instead of worrying about falling.