Power to your lungs
We know that Covid 19 can lead to lung complications. An article by Peiting Lien, physical therapist, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, US, addresses this issue, saying that recovery of lung function is possible through therapy and exercise.
To be able to perform even mildly rigorous activity, adequate lung function is required. Therefore, breathing exercises are an essential component of the initial therapy.
We have curated some exercises here that aim at improving lung function, particularly after an infection. Subject to medical clearance, these exercises can be performed even during mild infection. But it is important not to be overzealous and rush recovery.
Be mindful of how your body reacts to these exercises. If you feel any pain, discomfort, dizziness or shortness of breath, stop immediately. You may do multiple sets of these exercises if your physical condition allows.
• Seated diaphragm breathing – 1 minute
1. Sit in a comfortable position on the edge of the bed or chair. Keep your back straight and look in front.
2. Place your hands on the sides of your stomach.
3. Place the tip of your tongue on your palate.
4. Inhale through your nose deep into your stomach. Feel your belly rise with little or no movement of your chest. Your fingers may spread apart as you breath in and your diaphragm expands.
5. Exhale through your mouth.
• Breathing in frog squat – 9 reps. x 2 sets
1. If your level of fitness allows, sit in a frog squat, preferably balancing yourself on your toes;
2. Extend your arms (elbow straight) in between your knees, palms open and fingers extended.
3. As you inhale through your nose, raise your arms straight up to above shoulder height, expanding your chest fully.
4. As you exhale through your mouth, bring your arms straight down to the starting position in between your knees.
5. If you are uncomfortable performing this in the frog squat, you may do it in a seated position with the back straight and looking in front.
• Spirometer exercise –
9 reps x 1 set
The Sloan Kettering Institute in New York describes the incentive spirometer as a device that will expand your lungs by helping you to breathe more deeply and fully. It is easily available online and is priced at around Rs 400.
1. Sit in a comfortable position with the spirometer at eye level in front of you. Insert the mouthpiece in your mouth and clamp your lips tightly around it with the tip of your tongue touching your palate.
2. Inhale slowly through your mouth and you will see the indicator in the spirometer rising.
3. Once you get the indicator as high as you can, hold your breath for 10 seconds and exhale.
• Aum chanting –
9 reps. x 2 sets
1. Sit in a comfortable position same as above with your hands placed lightly at the side of your stomach and the tip of your tongue on your palate.
2. Inhale deeply though your nose and feel you diaphragm expand and your belly rise.
3. As you exhale through your mouth, chant Aum and feel the vibration in your upper body.
Remember that it is not just your lungs but supporting muscles as well that aid in breathing. So progressive exercises must include strengthening these muscles as well.
It is advised that you sit in meditation for 3 to 5 minutes after completing these exercises. Box breathing is a good way to relax and you will find details of how to do it correctly in my previous article on the subject (visit: www.mikesmartialarts.in/post/mind-over-matter-secrets-of-easy-mediation-at-home). Always consult a professional before starting on a workout.
The writer, a martial arts and fitness coach, is the founder of Mike’s Martial Arts, a Calcutta-based martial arts and advanced functional fitness studio. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org