Exercises: Breathing, Posture and Chest Mobility :: Nationwide Children's Hospital

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Exercises: Breathing, Posture and Chest Mobility

The following exercises will improve your posture (the way you stand). They will also make the muscles of your chest stronger and more flexible so that breathing is easier.
Do each exercise 5 times. Repeat ______ times per day.

Image of starting posture

Before You Start

  • Check your posture before starting the exercises.
  • Stand with your back straight, stomach flat, shoulders held back and head and neck straight.

Diagram of breathing1. Breathing from the Diaphragm

  • Breathe IN and let your stomach RISE.
  • Blow OUT (like blowing out a candle) gently and let your stomach fall.

Image of lying down

2. Diaphragm Breathing - Lying Down

  • Lie on your back with a small pillow under your legs. Put your arms down at your sides with the palms down. Breathe IN, allowing your stomach to rise gently.
  • Breathe OUT, and with control, allow your stomach to fall.

Image of upper chest breathing while lying down

3. Upper Chest Breathing - Lying Down

  • Try to keep the diaphragm quiet and concentrate on breathing with your upper chest.
  • Let your upper chest rise gently as you breathe IN.
  • As you breathe OUT, let your chest fall with control.

Image of back arch

4. Back Arch

  • Lie on the floor or a mat, face-down with your elbows out to the sides.
  • Raise your back, shoulders and head off the floor as you breathe IN.
  • Breathe OUT as you lay down again.

Image of shoulder pinch

5. Shoulder Pinch

  • Sit with your back straight and elbows out to the sides.
  • Pull your arms back as you breathe in so your shoulder blades pinch together.
  • Breathe out as you bring your arms together again.

Image of shoulder depression

6. Shoulder Depression

  • Breathe IN as you sit with your back straight.
  • Breathe OUT as you bend your neck sideways toward the right and pull your left shoulder down.
  • Repeat with the other side.

Image of pectoral stretch

7. Pectoral Stretch

  • Stand in a doorway and raise your arms to shoulder level.
  • Put your hands on the wall.
  • Lean into the doorway, keeping your back straight and bending only at the ankles.
  • Breathe IN as you lean forward. Breathe OUT as you return to center.

Image of side bend starting position Image of side bend exercise

8. Side Bends

  • Stand with your feet about 12 inches apart and stretch your arms out to the sides.
  • Bend sideways to the right as you breathe OUT.
  • Breathe IN as you stand straight again.
  • Bend sideways to the left as you breathe OUT.
  • Breathe IN as you stand straight again.

Image of trunk rotation

9. Trunk Rotation

  • Keep your shoulders and neck straight.
  • Sit with your arms out and your elbows bent.
  • Twist to the right as you breathe OUT.
  • Breathe IN as you face forward.
  • Then twist to your left as you breathe OUT and breathe IN as you face forward again.


If you have any questions about these exercises, please call your physical therapist at (614) 722-4515.


Exercises: Breathing, Posture and Chest Mobility (PDF)

HH-II-89 8/90, Revised 6/15 Copyright 1990, Nationwide Children’s Hospital


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