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Diaphragmatic Breathing – Your diaphragm is a large muscle separating your lungs from your abdomen. Your diaphragm can work hard and never get tired. Some people breathe using their chest muscles instead of their diaphragm. This takes extra effort and can cause fatigue and tension. Test yourself to see whether you breathe correctly through your diaphragm:
1. Sit upright and relax your shoulders
2. Rest one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach
3. Breathe in deeply through your nose and pay attention to the movement of your hands.
If you use your diaphragm to breathe, the hand on your stomach will move. If you use your chest muscles to breathe, the hand on your chest will move. Try both ways of breathing and feel the difference. If you are a chest breather, practice diaphragmatic breathing for a few moments several times a day, and soon it will become automatic. If your neck and shoulder muscles are constantly sore after a bout of SOB (shortness of breath) , then you are a chest breather and you have to learn to diaphragm breathe.
I can’t begin to tell you the difference that diaphragm breathing has made in my life. I don’t know when it started but I became a shallow breather (chest breather), not using my diaphragm. About eleven months ago I was having a very hard time, being continually SOB. If I went upstairs to the washroom, even using PLB, it would sometimes take me ½ hour to get my breath back. To make a long story short, I learned how to diaphragm breathe and my life turned around 180 degrees! When I go upstairs now I am winded when I reach the top as opposed to severely SOB.
I now know that my last hospital stay for respiratory failure was due mostly from being a shallow breather. I was cleaning out my shed, and because of my low FEV1 (10%) and low DLCO (19%), I would work for 30-40 seconds and then I would have to sit and catch my breath. I would PLB and huff and puff for 3-5 minutes in order to catch my breath. After doing this for a couple of days, 2 or 3 hours a day, I eventually exhausted my breathing muscles to the point that they were not functioning properly and not able to rid my body of CO2. Eventually this caused respiratory acidosis (lowering of blood pH) which led to a very severe exacerbation and respiratory failure. Now that I know how to diaphragm breathe, hopefully, this will never happen again! My next exacerbation will be infection induced! Probably the most aggravating thing to me through all of this, is that I suffered undue breathing hardship for a long, long time because nowhere down the line was my method of breathing ever checked and corrected! I did a lot more panting and sucking for air than I ever had to!
NOTE: Every COPD’er should be individually checked for proper breathing techniques. Ask your Dr. to show you how.
Even Simpler .....
Diaphragmatic Breathing 101
day I was contemplating my navel which I am one to do when I don’t want to do
anything else. I then thought of practicing my PLB. In a moment of silliness, as
I was exhaling, I blew my belly-button in, towards my backbone. I couldn’t just
leave it there so as I inhaled I sucked my belly-button back out. I then blew it
in again and sucked it out again. After the third time….the bells went off!!!! I
was diaphragmatic breathing!!!!! It is incredibly easy to learn to breathe
using this method…..Even a caveman can do it!
Finally : Exhaling & Relaxing
This page was last updated January 9, 2010