Breathing Exercises

Quick Test:

  • Place hand on belly and slowly inhale.
  • Does your stomach go up (out) or down (in)?
  • Under normal conditions, a person’s belly will go out. 
  • Athletes with VCD typically experience the opposite.
  • Watch a sleeping dog or baby to visualize what the belly should be doing. 

These breathing exercises are NOT a simple fix.

It requires focusing on breathing even during the course of intense competition. 

Seeking a Speech Pathologist specializing in VCD is ADVISED.


BOOK EXERCISE:  While lying down with knees bent, place a book on the belly.  Apply pressure to the book with one hand and force the belly to raise the book during inhalation.  This is typically difficult for a person with VCD.

VISUALIZATION:  While standing with your back against the wall, take a deep breath.  Do NOT breathe with your upper chest. Your chest and shoulders should be stationary and your shoulders, jaw, and neck should be relaxed.  Try doing this in front of a mirror, or ask someone for feedback.

BELLY CHECKS:  Throughout the day, do the Quick Test above to be sure the belly is going out on inhalation.

RATIO BREATHING/STRAW BREATHING:  Practice breathing through pursed lips using different ratios on the inhale and exhale.  (Examples:  one long breath on inhale, one long breath out on exhale; one long breath on inhale and three shorter puffs out on exhale; three short breaths on inhale and six short puffs on exhale.)  A straw can be used if needed to create a tight/pursed mouth.

RESCUE BREATHING:  During a VCD attack, slowly breath in through the nose and exhale more quickly through pursed lips.  If you are having trouble breathing in through the nose, you can breath in through pursed lips.

“My lungs are perfectly fine, but I can’t breathe when I push myself in training and competition… I went to the doctor, and he thought it could be asthma, so he prescribed 2 inhalers…” Learn the Difference


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