ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Two Treatments for Shortness of Breath

Updated on February 24, 2018
cam8510 profile image

Chris spent 10 years learning how to support his wife in her battle with breast cancer. He shares openly about his successes and failures.

Breathing Freely


Two Common Causes of Shortness of Breath

When a person can't seem to take a full, satisfying breath, two maladies immediately come to the fore. One is asthma. The other is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD. The treatments for these medical conditions range from using an inhaler to surgery. Before I introduce two other possible causes of shortness of breath, let me emphasize the seriousness of this symptom.

I am not a physician, but I have experienced shortness of breath. When I first noticed it, I went to my doctor. It would have been a mistake for me to ignore this symptom because my father once told his doctor he was having trouble breathing when climbing stairs. The doctor checked him over and reported that everything was working just fine. Two weeks later my father died of congestive heart failure. So even under a physician's care, shortness of breath can be minimized.

Finding Relief


Two Additional Causes of Shortness of Breath

There are at least two other reasons a person might experience shortness of breath. Is it possible that people are being treated for asthma or COPD when in reality their shortness of breath is due to one of these two, often overlooked, causes? I believe it is at least worth investigating, although asthma and COPD are very real and serious health conditions.

The first of these additional contributors to shortness of breath is tight muscles of the lower back, the upper back, and the chest. Taking a deep breath with any one of these, or any combination of the three is like blowing up a balloon with a rubber band around the middle.

I know this is a real possibility because I have proven it in my own experience. The tight muscles of my torso may have been a result of sleeping in a different bed or driving for a long time. I may have used those muscles in a way I am not accustomed to using them. As a result, the muscles tightened, and when they did, they restricted my ability to take a full breath.

Muscle Stretches Which Relieve Shortness of Breath


Stretching Muscles to Promote Free Breathing

When I experienced this after receiving a clean bill of cardiac health from my doctor, I began looking for another cause. I knew my upper back was feeling tight, so I did some stretching exercises. I was immediately able to get a full breath. Since then, I have discovered that my lower back and chest muscles can also cause shortness of breath. Here are a few stretching exercises to try if you have shortness of breath. These are not meant to replace an immediate visit to your doctor or the emergency room.

Also, these stretches are merely suggestions. You can replace them with other stretches for the same muscles.

Stretches for the Upper Back and Chest

A Stretch for the Upper Back

The first stretching exercise is for the upper back and shoulders. Sit looking straight forward. Point your chin down toward your left leg and tilt your head forward. The stretch will be down the right side of your upper back. Practice this on both sides until you can get a good stretch of the muscles.

Stretches for the Side Muscles, Latissimus Dorsi


Stretching the Sides, Latissimus Dorsi

The second exercise stretches the muscles down your sides known as the Latissimus Dorsi or Lats. Stand with your arms straight up over your head. Tilt your body at the waist to the right. Do this on the left as well. Experimenting with slightly different positions can cause a stretch to be even more productive.

Stretches for the Lower Back

Arch back toward the ceiling and drop head
Arch back toward the ceiling and drop head | Source
Drop the belly toward the floor and raise the head.
Drop the belly toward the floor and raise the head. | Source

Cat Stretches for the Lower Back

The cat-stretch is the third stretching exercise which will loosen the muscles of your entire back but the lower back in particular. Get down on your hands and knees. Arch your back toward the ceiling and hold the pose for a few seconds. Drop your belly toward the floor and hold.

Stretching the Chest Muscles

Stretching the Chest Muscles to Promote Free Breathing

The final stretch is for the chest. Stand straight and clasp your hands behind your back. Push your chest forward and your shoulders back. This will stretch the chest muscles.

Now take a breath and see if you notice a difference in the quality of breathing and the volume of air inhaled. Have the exercises improved your breathing? Take this information with you when you visit your doctor about the issue of shortness of breath.

Hydration Promotes Free Breathing


Dehydration Can Cause Shortness of Breath

Dehydration is another condition which can cause shortness of breath. This is due to the loss of blood volume and the resultant lack of oxygen distribution to the body's cells. The next time you have shortness of breath, try drinking a couple of glasses of water and monitor your ability to breathe afterward.

Two Sensible Ways to Promote Free Breathing

I do not intend to minimize the seriousness of heart conditions and asthma. People who genuinely suffer from these need appropriate treatments and the oversight of a good physician. But what could be more sensible for someone who develops a new case of shortness of breath than to try these two possible ways to resolve it. They take mere minutes. If they don't work, get to the doctor. In fact, if they do work, get to the doctor. But be sure to tell him or her that the symptom of shortness of breath seemed to be relieved by either stretching or hydration.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Mills 

      2 years ago from Traverse City, MI

      Peg, I'm glad you found the article helpful. Shortness of breath is such a major indication of heart problems. But I am convinced that in many cases, it can be merely tight muscles of the torso. I hope you find relief for yourself. I also sit far too long at the computer, and the result is as yours. But don't spend too much time away from your computer, we like your stories too much.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      2 years ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      These are great suggestions to try and limber up those tight muscles that can lead to breathing difficulty. I spend far too much time in my office chair and often feel the muscle strain from too long in one spot. I'll be trying your cat stretch exercise as well as the others. Thank you.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      3 years ago from SW England

      Great advice for relieving symptoms such as these. Thanks for sharing the information and the exercises; they can only help (probably many people) and should be shared everywhere. Shame the 'share' button no longer exists (I don't to Facebook etc.).

      Of course, exercise is important for general living anyway but one thing you mentioned can't be emphasised enough, which is drinking water - so many people don't drink enough of it and end up not only dehydrated but possibly having hallucinations and urine infections.


    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Great tips!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      3 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Excellent article for treating shortness of breath. I've never experienced this and I imagine it must be scary. Thanks for all the information and wonderful photos.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      3 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very informative article on short breathing problems. I sometimes experience tight breathing when tense or tired too much.

      Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Very cool stuff. These were great. So my oncology center has deep breathing meditation and chair yoga. Wow does that free up that lower back and chest. I like yours that I can do in my office.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      My dad died of a heart attack when he was 49 yrs old...this is an important article about an important attention, all of you!

      Thanks Chris!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)