Coachman position: A brief introduction to the breathe-easy position

The coachman position is a position that makes it easier to breathe. The position can help against shortness of breath in patients with asthma and COPD or other chronic obstructive respiratory diseases. As you sit in the coachman position, breathe calmly and as relaxed as possible. As you breathe out you can use the pursed lip technique.

Respiratory therapist Marlies Ziegler explains what the coachman position is and how to do it.

What is the coachman position?

The coachman position is a very well-known and commonly used breathe-easy position. This breathe-easy position derives its name from the position in which coachmen used to sit. They slept on the bench at the front of the cart, hunched after a hard day’s work, while the horses found their own way home. We imitate this very relaxed position with the coachman position.

Instructions for the coachman position: How it works

  1. Sit down on a stool, a chair, a bench, the edge of the bed or similar.
  2. Rest your elbows on your knees so that your shoulder girdle is supported and the weight is on your arms.
  3. Alternatively, you can put your hands on your knees.
  4. Öffnen Sie den Hosenknopf, um möglichst viel Bauchfreiheit zu haben.
  5. Breathe deep into your stomach. Your belly will push out as you breathe in and go back in when you breathe out.
  6. Ideally, breathe out through pursed lips.
  7. Stay in this position until your breathing has calmed down and you have caught your breath.

Breathing in the coachman position

It is important that your breathing is calm and relaxed for the coachman position. Use the pursed lip technique to breathe out. This resolves the shortness of breath and ensures a better supply of oxygen into the body.

Coachman position in bed?

The coachman position is a seated breathe-easy position. You cannot do it lying down. If you want to do the coachman position in bed, sit at the edge of the bed and continue as per the instructions above.

A breathe-easy position you can adopt lying in bed is sitting like a pasha.

Why adopt the coachman position for asthma and COPD?

People with asthma, COPD and other chronic obstructive respiratory diseases often suffer from shortness of breath and respiratory distress. The coachman position helps to get breathing under control in these situations and eases shortness of breath. For this reason, people with asthma and COPD should learn and regularly practise the coachman position, so they can intuitively adopt it in emergencies.

Effect of the coachman position

By supporting the weight of your shoulders and arms on your legs, the respiratory muscles can work more easily and so better support breathing. Abdominal breathing also improves. If you practise the coachman position regularly even when your breathing is normal, it is easier to recall this position if you are short of breath.

About Marlies Ziegler

This article was written in cooperation with Marlies Zieger. She 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 more than 20 years.

More exercises and information for free breathing

Note: The information in this blog post is not a treatment recommendation. The needs of patients vary greatly from person to person. The treatment approaches presented should be viewed only as examples. PARI recommends that patients always consult with their physician or physiotherapist first.

An article written by the PARI BLOG editorial team.

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