Part of the Problem Is – We Don't Breathe Right!
How many of you guys looked at the title and said to yourself 'Isn't that the truth'. Us wheezers and puffers get it all wrong, don't we? We breathe light using our chest. We mouth breathe most of the time, often letting cold air into our lungs. We forget to breathe some of the time – think about it – do you breathe right when walking up your stairs? Then we wonder why we get so out of breath often. We have to accept that part of our breathlessness could be helped if we learned, and kept breathing, right.
What are we doing wrong?
When we were young children we did breathe right. It is said many of us when we sleep, even though we have COPD, breathe right. But you and I when awake almost certainly do not. Because most of us with COPD, partly as a result of our condition, have forgotten how to breathe properly. To get our breathing right again we have to retrain ourselves. To think about how we breathe. Many of us only use but a small portion of the top section of our lungs. Leaving the bottom half with nothing but stale old air. Little wonder we get more out of breath, and have lower oxygen saturation levels than we need or in some cases are capable of. Us with emphysema for instance have to understand the lungs. Them organs are huge. They take up all your chest, and extend all the way down to the bottom of your rib cage and a little beyond. The left is smaller than the right to make room for the heart. If you breathed right you would see your tummy rising and falling with each breathe you take. But for many at the moment, your chest rises, but your tummy does not move. Did you look to see? A sure sign you are not taking air into the bottom half your lungs.
The importance of pursed-lips
Our problem is not so much getting air into our lungs. But the stale air out. And if we don't get stale air out our lungs remain inflated. Making for less room to get fresh oxygen laden air in to replace the stale air we have not expelled. Our lungs have lost much of their elastic. They don't bounce back in. So we have to learn to get it right and use our abdominal muscles, to help the process. To help to oxygenate our bodies more. To help in turn get that heart rate down, and to be less breathless.
Lie down flat to start. Put one hand on your chest, the other on your tummy. Then breathe in to the count of four, slowly and surely through your nose. If you can only manage two in that is okay too. Feel your tummy rise, and your chest remain still. Now hold that breath for a second. And slowly to the count of 6, four if you only managed two in, breathe out through pursed lips while gently tightening your abdominal muscles a little and pushing down as you breathe out. Imagine you are softly blowing out a candle as you expel air out of those pursed lips. While feeling that tummy slowly sink in your chest should remain still. Do this ten times to begin with for maybe four times a day, and increase to 20, or more if you want to when able. After you have got used to doing this exercise you may also do this while standing.
I'm off to relax
Many use this method to get over a breathless episode, and from breathless through exertion some find within a minute of doing this simple breathing exercise it is possible to get back to normal. Try it. This exercise will help to calm you, and oxygenate the blood faster. If you have an oximeter use this while doing the exercise. You may see it go up by a couple of points. It does me.
If you have a smart phone search for a free app called 'Breathe2relax'. This app can help you to breathe right and relax. It is also programmable to the counts you want. I and some of my many friends use this easy app. I would love to hear from you how you get on with the app, and the exercise, in the comments section below.
For now, I am off to enjoy my relaxing exercises, and breathing right. I hope you do too. Whatever you are doing today, smile and enjoy your day. But most of all: Breathe Easy.
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, RLS, sleep apnea) in addition to COPD?