Pursed lip breathing is a technique that slows down your breathing rate and relieves shortness of breath. It involves breathing in through your nose for a few seconds and then breathing out slowly with your lips pursed.
With daily practice, pursed lip breathing can help strengthen the lungs and make them work more effectively. It may be especially beneficial for people with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Breathing consists of two phases: expiratory and inspiratory. With normal breathing, the expiratory phase is longer when compared with the inspiratory phase. However, in those with respiratory ailments, especially chronic obstructive lung diseases, this type of breathing can cause small airways to collapse. This is because there is reduced elasticity in the respiratory tissues, causing more resistance to air entry.
Pursed lip breathing helps create back pressure producing a small amount of positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP), which prevents the collapse of airways during breathing. Practicing this technique can therefore alleviate shortness of breath and help you not have to work as hard to breath effectively.