Managing breathlessness when bending

You may experience breathlessness and discomfort when bending if you have pulmonary fibrosis. This is a common problem, as the action of bending squashes and restricts the muscles of breathing so they don’t work as effectively, making you feel more breathless.

If you are carrying additional weight especially around your abdomen, the breathlessness is likely to feel worse.

Here are some handy tips for you to try:

Position yourself well

Avoid bending from the waist and bring the task up towards your waist if you can.

If you need to work at below waist level e.g. accessing a low cupboard, washing machine, dishwasher or whilst gardening, try using a low stool or chair and sit to do the task instead of bending.

If standing, ease into a crouch position, keep your back straight and bend from your knees.

Use a secure support if there is one available. This will allow you to keep your chest upright and shoulders back enabling you to breathe more comfortably. The support will also give you something to push against when returning to the upright position.

Avoid holding your breath when bending and use the ‘blow as you go’ technique. Try to breathe out on the effort part of the movement i.e. when bending forward  


Try to reduce how often you bend over by adapting the way you do an activity and/or using appropriate aids and equipment where able.

Ask yourself:
‘Do I really need to do this?
‘Could someone else do this for me?’
‘Is there something else I would rather be using my time, energy and breathing to do?’


It is important to pace your activities and take adequate rest periods in between.

Try breaking tasks up into manageable sections. Rest in a comfortable position in between and use relaxed breathing control to settle your breathing before you resume activity again

Do the task differently 

See what gadgets and equipment are available that will make the job easier to do. e.g. helping hand grabbers, long handled gardening tools, using slip on shoes as opposed to lace ups.

[fs-toc-omit] A final word

Remember none of the above will make your breathlessness go away.

It will take time and practice to feel comfortable and confident doing a task in a different way to how you have been used to doing it before.

However, adapting and modifying the way you do a task may make it a little easier to manage, leaving you with more energy to do activities that you most enjoy.

> Breathlessness

> Breathing techniques

Information provided by Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis (APF) is not a substitute for professional medical advice. It’s intended as general information only. APF is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for any loss or damage suffered by users resulting from the information published on

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