Tuesday, 4. June 2019
Mucus forming in the lungs during an infection is a normal physiological reaction. The goblet cells produce more mucus so pathogens can be quickly transported out of the system. At the same time, the mucous membranes become swollen because many immune defence cells are being transported to the site of the infection. More mucus and swollen mucous membranes constrict the bronchi, which is also where air flows. So breathing becomes more difficult. By doing certain exercises, mucus in the lungs can be mobilised so that it can be expectorated more easily and quickly. Every week we will present another one of the eight helpful exercises here on our PARI BLOG:
We asked Marlies Ziegler this question. She is a physiotherapist who specialises in respiratory physiotherapy and who every day works with patients who have chronic problems with clearing mucus from their lungs and bronchi. So she is well versed in effective exercises for mobilising mucus in the lungs. Not only are these exercises suitable for patients with chronic lung diseases such as COPD, cystic fibrosis, PCD and chronic bronchitis, they are also appropriate for times when the lungs and bronchi are acutely congested with mucus due to colds, bronchitis or pneumonia.
Marlies Ziegler knows from experience that the exercises work. The reason is that “the exercises have a positive effect on the flexibility of the chest, the spine and the ribs. Breathing is altered by this increased flexibility and the mucus can be cleared better.”
To achieve the best possible result, all of the exercises should be synced with your breathing. Syncing one’s breathing and movements can cause fluctuations in the bronchi in time with one’s breathing, enabling the air to get in behind the mucus. The mucus loosens and can be transported out of the lungs more easily. This works even better if you hold your breath for a short time after inhaling (if possible, slowly count to three).
The “screw” exercise twists your spine and stretches the muscles in your chest. By twisting your spine and stretching, more air can flow into the stretched out side of your ribcage and can get behind the mucus there. In addition, the exercise can provide relief if there is tension due to increased coughing or coughing fits.
Depending on how flexible you are, you can do the “mini” or “maxi” version of this exercise. For the easier “mini” version place one leg on top of the other and bend both knees instead of having the bottom leg straight.
The “screw” exercise will be even more effective if you use a PEP system for exhaling, e.g. the PARI PEP S system as shown in the photo. How to do this exercise:
It is good to hold this position for at least 30 seconds. Your muscles need a certain amount of time before they yield.
About Marlies Ziegler
Marlies Ziegler works as a physiotherapist in private practice in Munich. She specialises in respiratory therapy. She has been treating patients with chronic obstructive and restrictive airway diseases such as asthma, COPD, cystic fibrosis (CF) and primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD), for 20 years.
Note: The information in this blog post is not a replacement for treatment. The exercises described should be used as examples for respiratory therapy. PARI recommends that patients always coordinate with their doctor and physiotherapist.
An article written by the PARI BLOG editorial team.