COPD – Breathe Better, Move Better

Did you know that physios aren’t just trained in muscles, joint, ligaments, bones and tendon rehab, but also trained in helping with respiratory conditions?

Physiotherapists undergo training in airway clearance techniques to help clear sputum (phlegm) from the lungs, decrease breathlessness and can provide exercises to improve cardiorespiratory fitness. The most common cardiorespiratory condition is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). 


COPD occurs due to prolonged exposure to toxic particles or gases, most commonly cigarette smoke, second hand smoke and environmental exposure. This causes inflammation, which then causes lung tissue destruction and airflow limitation. It is the 3rd most common cause of sickness and death worldwide.

Common symptoms are:

  • Cough
  • Breathlessness
  • Sputum production (including coughing up sputum)
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness

How to treat it!

The first line treatment for this condition is pharmacological, so it is important to follow your doctor and pharmacists instructions on these.

What physiotherapists can do:

  • Show you positions to lay or sit in that use gravity for clearing sputum from the lungs
  • Use manual techniques such as percussion and vibration of the chest wall to help loosen the sputum
  • Teach you at home techniques to use the breath to open the lungs, to mobilise the sputum to the centre of the chest, and effective huff and cough to clear it out of the chest
  • Give advice and education regarding exercises to help strengthen key muscles and build up aerobic fitness

For many people physiotherapy can make a big difference in decreasing breathlessness, sputum clearance, aerobic fitness and overall quality of life.

If you experience COPD or other respiratory conditions, don’t spend another day letting your symptoms hold you back, speak to one of our qualified physiotherapists today!