Simple breathing exercises for COPD – help for shortness of breath, coughing & hyperinflation. Part 3


Physiotherapist Marlies Ziegler explains how respiratory physiotherapy for COPD works and every week for three weeks she will present a simple breathing exercise. The exercises increase the ribcage’s flexibility and they can reduce shortness of breath, coughing and hyperinflation, as well make it easier to dislodge mucus from the bronchial tubes.

3rd exercise: Bow and arrow while sitting

This exercise mobilises the cervical spine and the ribs and stretches the pectoral muscles. This exercise is performed using a fluid movement and in sync with one’s breathing.

How to do this exercise:

  1. Starting position: Sit up on a stool next to a wall. Feet together. The right side of your body should lightly touch the wall.
  2. Put your palms together, raise both arms up (a bit over shoulder height) and rest your right arm against the wall.
  3. Inhale and slide your left hand a bit past your right hand.
  4. Exhale and rotate your torso to the back. You can breathe out through your nose or using pursed lip breathing. While exhaling, move your left arm at chest level to your left costal arch and pull your elbow back and down. Imagine you are drawing a bow. Your right arm and your bottom should stay where they are while you perform this movement and not move. Make sure you do not shrug your shoulders and that they remain relaxed.
  5. Inhale again. While inhaling move your left hand starting at the costal arch back to where it started and extend it past your right hand, which is against the wall.

4 to 8 breaths per side. Repeat the exercise on the other side.

About Marlies Ziegler

Marlies Ziegler works as a physiotherapist in private practice in Munich. She specialises in respiratory physiotherapy. 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.

You can read the entire interview with Marlies Ziegler in which she explains why respiratory physiotherapy can help with COPD and you can read more about the “Standing Crescent Moon” exercise in Part 1 and the “Rotating while Seated” exercise in Part 2.

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 coordinate with their doctor and physiotherapist.


An article written by the PARI BLOG editorial team.

Back to overview