The virus SARS-CoV-2, informally known as coronavirus and COVID-19, has turned into the last 100 years’ worst pandemic. From the research standpoint, the virus is still new, and scientists and researchers can’t conclude the complete list of short and long-term effects of its infection.
Nonetheless, the existing body of research and clinical evidence suggests that COVID-19 badly affects the infected individual’s respiratory system. Shortness of breath and dropped oxygen blood levels are some of the telltale symptoms of COVID-19. Even those who have recovered from the virus have complained about experiencing breathing difficulty.
Respiratory muscle training is considered an effective pre-operative measure for people suffering from pulmonary complications. Some scientists have also hinted that patients recovering from COVID-19 can also benefit from a well-thought-out respiratory muscle training regimen.
This post will shed light on the respiratory effects of COVID-19 and how respiratory muscle training possibly put patients on the path of recovery.
Note: The following discussion is not an alternative to a certified physician’s guidance. If you are recovering from the coronavirus and want to start respiratory muscle training for speeding up the recovery, consult your doctor first.
What Is Respiratory Muscle Training?
Before we move to discuss the Respiratory Muscle Training (RMT) for COVID-19 patients and how the virus affects the pulmonary system, it is essential to discuss what RMT is. The core objective of RMT is to improve the stamina of respiratory muscles. This way, it is pretty similar to high-endurance physical exercises that boost the performance of skeletal muscles.
RMT targets the smooth muscles that facilitate the physical movement of the body during inhalation and exhalation. These respiratory muscles are the diaphragm, transverse abdominus, intercostal muscles, and abdominals. You can increase the strength and stamina of these respiratory muscles by breathing in particular patterns and under specific conditions.
Apart from DIY, unaided breathing exercises, you can also train your respiratory muscles through an easy-to-use respiratory training device.
Respiratory Muscle Training and COVID-19
RMT can come in useful for COVID patients who are experiencing mild symptoms or are on the recovery path. Regular RMT can help the respiratory system regain its strength in lesser time without relying on medications and in-clinic treatments.
How COVID-19 Affects the Lungs and Respiratory Muscles?
As mentioned earlier, the vital organs of the respiratory system bear the most brunt of COVID-19. The virus can cause a host of pulmonary complications, including pneumonia, sepsis, and acute respiratory distress syndrome. In severe cases, the coronavirus also damages the walls and linings of the air sacs of the lungs.
On the other hand, when a patient suffers breathing difficulties from the virus, they are put on mechanical ventilation. In other words, they breathe without using respiratory muscles.
The inactive state of respiratory muscles for an extended time weakens them. These weakened respiratory muscles are why many people experience difficulty breathing even when they have defeated the coronavirus.
RMT for Patients Recovering from COVID-19
You can catalyze the recovery of weakened respiratory muscles through RMT exercises. RMT is an effective way to improve your pulmonary functions without needing medications and other medical treatments. The following are the two RMT activities that can prove to be effective against the detrimental effects of COVID-19.
Diaphragmatic or Belly Breathing
Diaphragmatic or belly breathing is a muscle training exercise that activates and strengthens the diaphragm— a muscle layer between the chest and the abdomen. It contracts and flattens during inhalation. When a person has an activated diaphragm, they can take in more air in the lungs without forceful breathing. You can do this respiratory muscle training using these simple steps:
- Sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
- Put one hand on the chest and the other on the stomach.
- Deeply inhale from the nostrils and feel the stomach moves against the hand.
- Then exhale through the mouth and gradually tighten the abdominal muscles and let the hand on the stomach moves downward with the belly movement.
- Keep the hand on the chest as still as possible throughout the respiratory cycle.
Using Respiratory Training Device
If you want to strengthen all the respiratory muscles at once, use a well-made respiratory training device. A good respiratory training device enables you to adjust the difficulty level of breathing by changing environmental pressure.
When you breathe in and out in a tough condition, you need to use all respiratory muscles. This regular utilization of respiratory muscles for forceful breathing eventually strengthens them.
- A simple respiratory training device consists of a nozzle, valve(s), and clamp and remains easy to use.
- Put the clamp on the nose and nozzle in the mouth.
- Adjust the environmental pressure through the valves.
- As you decrease the pressure, the difficulty level of breathing increases.
- Breathe in and out through the nozzle and complete one set of 10 reps.
You can start from 3 10-rep sets in the morning and evening and gradually increase the number of reps from 10 to 15 and 20 in each rep.
For the respiratory muscle training mentioned above, consider getting Orygen Dual Valve or Orygen Inspiratory Valve. The regular and right use of these devices strengthens your inspiratory and expiratory muscles. Subsequently, strengthened respiratory muscles can help you reduce breathing problems without needing medicines and professional intervention.