Breathing exercises with asthma

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Patients with asthma usually limit their physical activity and much more than is justified by their state of health. This is one of the most serious mistakes made with this diagnosis: the fewer movements, the less oxygen the muscles receive, which leads to the development of shortness of breath. Despite the fact that gymnastics, used in various diseases, was created back in the 30s, the official medicine of exercise therapy (therapeutic physical culture) was recognized only in 1973. Our article will introduce you to the most effective breathing techniques against asthma and the nuances of their implementation.

Disease Description

Bronchial asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease. The disease is characterized by frequent relapses of paroxysmal shortness of breath. Difficulty breathing occurs against a blockage (obstruction) of the airways. The high incidence of asthma in the world has become a public health problem due to the high costs of drugs and hospitalization. 

Bronchial asthma can be an illness at any age, but mainly the disease affects children and adolescents. Today, asthma is the most common chronic illness among children.

 The main causes (factors) causing asthma attacks are: 

  • allergies (to dust, animal dander, chemicals); 
  • frequent SARS; 
  • polluted atmosphere;
  •  tobacco smoke; 
  • some drugs (Aspirin and other medicines from a number of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs); 
  • lack of good nutrition
  • hereditary predisposition; 
  • strong emotions, stress
  • physical stress
  • disturbances in the functioning of the immune and endocrine systems, as well as the autonomic nervous system.

During the period of remission, the patient should not have obvious signs of illness. As for the symptoms of exacerbations, it is noted: 

  1. Wheezing – is the most characteristic symptom of the disease. Wheezing is heard during prolonged expiration. Their appearance indicates a narrowing of the airways. Sometimes wheezing is heard even at a distance of several meters from the patient.
  2.  Cough. This is the dominant symptom of childhood asthma. It is usually dry, paroxysmal, tiring, not associated with the common cold, manifesting at night or after physical training
  3. Dyspnea (shortness of breath). Asthmatics often experience a sudden lack of air. A tiring feeling of shortness of breath occurs at night or in the morning with varying degrees of severity. This is a subjective indicator that does not reflect the severity of the attacks. Shortness of breath can manifest itself as a response to triggering factors (cold air, stress, heavy physical exertion). After the introduction of bronchodilators, this symptom disappears. 
  4. Intolerance of effort. The patient quickly gets tired, complains that he does not have the strength to run to the bus, climb the stairs. 

Symptoms of asthma may be accompanied by anxiety, irritability, depression, drowsiness after sleepless nights, general weakness, headaches and dizziness, a feeling of heaviness in the chest, heart palpitations, loud breathing, blueness of the skin. 

Important! If you have asthma symptoms solely on the pollen of plants and trees, then a respiratory system diagnosis (for example, spirometry) should be performed after the pollen season is over, and also after treatment of bronchial hyperreactivity. 

Therapeutic exercises for asthma 

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Competent control of asthma involves close collaboration between the doctor and the patient. It is necessary to develop an optimal training regimen and do not forget to carry medicines with you. 

What is the benefit 

So, let us consider the confirmed benefits of breathing exercises:

  •  they teach deep abdominal (diaphragmatic) breathing; 
  • cleanse the lungs of harmful microorganisms, normalize blood flow; 
  • reduce the risk of exacerbation of the disease; 
  • reduce inflammation symptoms (including shortness of breath); 
  • normalize lung ventilation, restore bronchial obstruction;
  •  indicated for better discharge of sputum; 
  • simplify and stabilize breathing through the nose; 
  • form the correct posture in schoolchildren; 
  • prevent chest deformities; 
  • strengthen muscle tissue and maintain physical fitness
  • positively affect the psychological state, stimulate the body’s defenses. 

Did you know? If the human lungs are deployed on a flat surface, they will cover a whole court for tennis competitions. 

Harm and contraindications 

Therapeutic gymnastics is capable of causing damage in the presence of the following pathologies: 

  • mechanical damage to the head and spine; 
  • chronic osteochondrosis and radiculitis; 
  • hypertension, intracranial pressure, glaucoma, IOP; 
  • displacement of the intervertebral disc; 
  • myocardial damage, congenital heart disease; 
  • kidney, liver, or bladder stones; 
  • myopia is more than 5 diopters.

In severe health conditions, but in the absence of contraindications, the patient is allowed to reproduce techniques in a sitting or lying position. 

Basic rules for performing exercises 

When playing with breathing techniques, it is important to remember certain rules: 

  1. Focus on making deep, extended exhalations (they will automatically provide deep breaths). 
  2. Between receptions, continue to breathe deeply. 
  3. During one training session, you should not do a large number of deep breathing techniques so as not to provoke pulmonary hyperventilation syndrome. 
  4. Deep breathing techniques are not the same for everyone, they are performed taking into account the individual needs of the person for oxygen. 
  5. Try to exercise outdoors
  6. Make sure that your movements are not constrained by uncomfortable clothing.
  7. Regularity is also important – preferably in the early morning and before going to bed. 

Did you know? In Japan, special clubs have been created in which for a fairly modest amount of money you can breathe purified flavored air. 

Therapeutic exercises for asthmatics 

Respiratory techniques are designed to control the symptoms of hyperventilation and focus on changing the pattern of breathing. Therapeutic gymnastics includes the Strelnikova, Buteyko system, yoga, and other similar techniques.

 By the method of A. N. Strelnikova

 The main difference between the Strelnikova complex and other systems is that special attention is paid to the duration of the suspension of respiration and expiration. 


  1. Stand straight. 
  2. Arms bent at the elbows lift up. 
  3. Hands should be turned away from you.
  4.  Inhaling intensively and loudly, clench your hands into fists.
  5.  Then follow a leisurely and light nasal (or mouth) exhale. In this case, the exhalation should be accompanied by unclenching of the palms, however, fingers should not be strained. 

In the first lesson, the reception is performed four times, followed by a respite of 3-5 seconds. The second day of classes involves 8 receptions. On the third day, do 16 repetitions, and after a few days – 32. 

Important! In order not to bring down the respiratory rhythm, count the number of performed techniques in your mind.


  1. Stand up straight, legs should be located shoulder-width apart.
  2.  Keep your shoulders free. 
  3. Bend your elbows slightly, and put your hands into fists. 
  4. With your fists on your stomach, inhale quickly and loudly with your nose. 
  5. At the moment of inhalation, throw your fists down. 
  6. Open your brushes and straighten your arms completely. 
  7. With easy exhalation, again collect your fingers into fists. 
  8. Finally, return your fists to your waist level. 

One series includes 8 breathing cycles, followed by a 4-second respite and the next 8 cycles. All you need to do is 12 episodes. 


  1. Stand straight, legs should be slightly narrower than shoulder width. 
  2. Lower your arms completely relaxed. 
  3. Slightly lower the body forward, rounding the back. 
  4. Tilt your head forward as well. 
  5. At the maximum tilt point, take a sharp, loud breath. 

Take 8 tilts-breaths. Take a break for about 45 seconds and repeat the same amount of tricks. 


  1. Stand straight. 
  2. Feet should be slightly narrower than shoulder-width, try not to tear them off the floor.
  3. Do squats with synchronized turns of the body to the right, then to the left. 
  4. Keep your hands at the level of the abdomen bent at the elbows. 
  5. During the squats, make haptic movements with your hands (like a cat). 
  6. Avoid deep squats, this should be a half squat. Accompany each squat with a quick and loud breath. 
  7. The nature of the exhale is unprincipled – perform it reflectively. 

Do 8 sets of 12 squats. 

“Hug your shoulders.” 

  1. Stand straight. 
  2. Raise your arms bent at the elbows to shoulder level and as if throw one towards the other, as if trying to hug yourself. 
  3. With each girth, take a quick breath in sync. 
  4. Move your hands parallel to one another. It is strictly forbidden to swap hands.

Do 12 sets of 8 breaths.

Did you know? Insects lack lungs: the organ functions of these creatures are tracheas.

The Big Pendulum

This technique combines elements“Pump” and “Hug your shoulders”: 

  1. So, stand up straight, legs already have shoulders. 
  2. Leaning forward, stretch your arms to the floor and inhale. Immediately, without a break, make a slight tilt back. 
  3. Breathing in again, clasp your arms around your shoulders.
  4.  Exhale freely. 

Implement 12 sets of 8 breaths.


“Forward step”: 

  1. Stand straight, legs are already shoulders. 
  2. Raise your right leg bent at the knee up to the waist level. 
  3. Next, straighten the same leg from the knee, pulling on the toe. 
  4. After taking a quick and loud breath, sit down lightly on your left leg. 
  5. Exhale arbitrarily. 
  6. Repeat on the opposite side. 

Do 8 sets of 8 breaths.


  1. Take a similar body position. 
  2. But now the bent right leg needs to be taken back. 
  3. After breathing in, sit on your left foot and take a breath. 
  4. Exhale arbitrarily. 

Repeat on the opposite side. Take 4 sets of 8 breaths.

 Important! If the receptions are performed by children, then for them the number of exercises is strictly dosed (the duration of one charge is no more than 5 minutes). In addition, training is preferably carried out in a playful way. In general, classes will be useful for the child only under the condition of competent therapy and a healthy lifestyle.

By the method of K.P. Buteyko

Before classes on the Buteyko method, a test is held of the ability to hold your breath. The fact is that the patient should not feel a lack of air. It is impossible for the breath to stop by force – it must be a completely natural process. 

So, press the wings of the nose with your fingers and calculate your maximum. Professor Buteyko believed that a result above 1 minute indicates perfect health, between 40-60 seconds – the body also functions without problems.

 The professor emphasized that serious problems with the respiratory system are absent even for those who are able to withstand only 20-30 seconds without air. However, if the patient finds it difficult to withstand without air for 10 or 15 seconds, this may indicate that he is breathing abnormally.

The goal of the Buteyko technique is to reduce the depth of inspirations and exhalations, simplify nasal breathing, and acquire the skill of prolonged respiratory arrest. The technique also allows you to control the air that you swallow. 

So, Buteyko’s classic method of nasal breathing involves the following pattern of action: 

  • superficial inhalation – 2 seconds; 
  • exhalation – 4 seconds;
  •  respiratory arrest for about 4 seconds, followed by an increase.

Keep a special diary, thanks to which you can track your breathing.

To stop an attack

In case of an asthma attack, try not to panic and keep passive and moderate breathing. Take the medicine faster. Ask loved ones to massage your back and chest area. 

Breathing exercises to relieve an asthma attack: 

  1. Take a nasal breath. After exhaling, play the sound “p – f – f”. Keep your lips closed. Take a short break. 4–5 repetitions required. 
  2. Take a nasal breath. After exhaling, play the sound “mm – m – m”. Keep your lips tight while doing this. Break off for a while. 5-6 reps required. 
  3. With ring fingers, gently rub the surface of the nose for one minute. 
  4. Press your finger on the jugular fossa until a pain is tolerated. If breathing stabilizes after a few minutes, you can ease the pressure. Such a reception can not be performed for more than five minutes.

 Important! If symptoms persist, seek medical attention. 

Useful recommendations 

Tips for conducting classes for patients with asthma: 

  • you need to start classes only in the stage of remission of the disease, during periods of exacerbations and stay in the hospital, the method of therapy changes – the patient needs the help of an experienced physiotherapist; 
  • start training preferably on an empty stomach and with an empty bladder;
  •  techniques should be mastered gradually – the transition to the next technique is possible only when the previous one is performed without any complications. 

It is important for people with asthma to realize that physical activity in no way increases the risk of wheezing and other unpleasant symptoms. The initial effect of classes may be general discomfort – anxiety, shortness of breath. However, be patient and continue to exercise, and classes will gradually begin to bring positive results.



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