Respiratory therapy: heal medical conditions with correct breathing


Our breath has a strong health-promoting effect. Respiratory therapy makes use of this effect with breath exercises that can help heal a range of physical and psychological illnesses. But how exactly does it work?

Why breath can heal many medical conditions

We can heal medical conditions with our breath? It almost sounds too good to be true. But the healing power of breath is indeed so great that it can alleviate many illnesses and ailments – from physical to psychological. And why? Because it supplies all our organs with vital oxygen, breathing is one of the body’s most important functions. This life-preserving function means that it holds tremendous power – the power that lies at the heart of respiratory therapy. Thanks to its gentle, easing and yet deep-activating effect, breath work has a positive effect on every illness and condition.

What is respiratory therapy?

The aim of respiratory therapy is to improve lung function and break bad breathing habits. This is done with breathing exercises. The exercises have a threefold function: they help patients breathe more easily, strengthen the respiratory muscles and enable conscious relaxation of the muscles. They also help patients to find the right breathing pattern. Respiratory therapy has a holistic effect: it benefits body (loosening, stretching), mind and soul (relaxing, calming) alike. This means that different focus points can be set: respiratory therapy can be used in the field of psychotherapy and in the field of physiotherapy.

Respiratory therapy helps with most psychological disorders

Our breath is not only a reflection of our physical condition, but also of our mental state. For example, when stressed, we breathe quickly and shallowly, but slowly and deeply when relaxed. Respiratory therapy makes use of this connection between breath and psyche. By teaching patients how to breathe consciously, it trains their perception of inner feelings. Respiratory therapy is used for most conditions in the field of psychotherapy:

  • depression
  • anxiety disorders
  • stress disorders
  • burnout syndrome
  • sleep disorders
  • eating disorders
  • addictions
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Respiratory therapy in the field of physiotherapy

In physiotherapy, breathing techniques are used as a way of easing physical diseases or their symptoms. Patients with lung disease, for example, learn to strengthen their respiratory muscles. Respiratory diseases such as asthma lead to impaired breathing and often to secretion stuck in the bronchial tubes. It’s therefore important to learn how to cough up phlegm effectively in order to breathe more easily.

Pursed lip in respiratory distress

One of the most typical respiratory therapy exercises is the pursed lip. This exercise helps in acute respiratory distress. The pursed lip has the effect of slowing down the flow of breath and thus keeping the airways dilated.

How it works:

  1. Pucker your lips as if whistling.
  2. Push the upper lip slightly forward so that the lips are only open a crack.
  3. Exhale slowly and evenly through the narrowly opened lips. Do not push air out.

Correct practice is to exhale longer than to inhale.

Respiratory therapy helps with these physical diseases

Conditions that require respiratory therapy as a form of physiotherapy include shortness of breath (constant or in attacks), phlegm, coughs and respiratory dysfunction.

Such conditions occur, for example, in:

  • chronic obstructive bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease COPD
  • asthma
  • pneumonia
  • pulmonary fibrosis
  • cystic fibrosis
  • operations or trauma in the chest area
  • paralytic diseases

Other physical illnesses can also benefit from respiratory therapy. Chronic back pain is one example, as breathing can be used to improve the mobility of the ribs or the chest vertebrae and stretch the diaphragm.


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