As we all take shelter in our homes due to the current unprecedented global health crisis, how do we occupy ourselves? I would argue this is the perfect opportunity to make ourselves a little more resilient to this disease IF the unfortunate were to happen. Allow me to share some of my thoughts as a practising Physiotherapist to help you maximise your chances against this hidden enemy.
All current studies point towards this being a respiratory disease. Therefore promoting our respiratory health should be a key part in the strategy to overcome it. Whilst, of course, adhering to all other UK government guidelines including regular hand hygiene, social distancing and self-isolation in the event of any symptoms.
How do we promote our respiratory health? Fresh air is key. But how do we achieve this whilst indoors? Yes, exercising, walking, jogging and cycling are recommended IF you can engage in these activities, alone or with family members, whilst also adhering to social distancing guidelines as outlined by the UK government.
Here are a few things you can do to supplement these activities. You can do these at home, at your leisure, in your own living room, kitchen or bedroom with your window or door open for good air circulation. Alternatively, you can also use a balcony (if you have one) or outdoors in the garden given no further restrictions are imposed on these areas by the government.
These exercises can be done sitting, standing or whilst walking. Even in bed if you so chose.
Feel free to download and print out the exercise programme below before you start.
Localised Deep Breathing Exercises.
Clothing: Comfortable loose clothing Equipment: None Age: All age groups Time: Time of your choice Duration: 5 minutes (per cycle) Happy? Let’s start. Starting position: Stand upright. Place your palms firmly on your upper chest wall above the nipple. Do not cross your arms which will bring the shoulders forward. Place your right hand on your right upper chest wall, your left hand on your left upper chest wall with shoulders back and chest forward. Nice & tall. Take a couple of deep breaths, to begin with. Now you are ready to start. Exercises: 1. Start breathing in through your nose filling your upper lungs, pushing the rib cage outwards against your firmly placed hands. Hold your breath for 5 counts (or 10 if you can) this will allow you to aerate the small air pockets (alveoli) at the far corners of your lung field.
2. Breath out through your mouth continuously through 5 counts sucking in your tummy as if you were blowing a balloon. This will help you empty your lungs properly (Palms placed on your chest stay firmly in place through the cycle of breathing. This is so that you can feel the movement of your rib cage alongside the expansion and deflation of your lungs, prompting focused localised breathing) You have successfully aerated your upper lobes now. 3. Now let’s aerate the lower lobes by repeating the above. This time your hands should be placed firmly over the lower rib cage below the nipple. Hold them firmly in place over the rib cage and repeat the above process feeling the rib cage being pushed on to the hands as your lungs expand. Hold it for 5 counts. Feel your hands follow the sinking rib cage as you breathe out, exerting a gentle and even pressure facilitating full exhalation and emptying the lungs properly. Your bilateral front lower lobes are now aerated successfully. 4. To aerate the back of your lower lobes, While sitting or standing upright, place your hands firmly just above the small of your back at waist level Repeat the above breathing pattern feeling the lower rib cage moving backwards & forwards on to your hands. Your bilateral rear lower lobes are now aerated successfully. 5. Finally, let’s move on to your back upper lobes. How do we do this? Slightly more complicated as you may be thinking about how to effectively place your hands here. Actually, you don’t need your hands to tell you which part of your lung you are breathing in to. You are now an expert on localised breathing and can visualise which part of the lung you are breathing in to. So, don’t worry about hand placement. In the same upright position or on your front if you are on the bed, recall how you localised the other lobes when breathing. Breath into the back of your upper chest long & hard pushing the chest wall backwards & upwards. Complete the cycle. There you are, you have done it without needing your hands to guide you. Well done! You have aerated four lobes of your lungs locally and successfully in less than 5 minutes. You can repeat this process as many times as you wish and stay healthy not only through COVID-19 but for the rest of your life. Good luck – Stay safe.