Active Cycle of Breathing Techniques

Breathing control

  • Breathing control is breathing gently allowing your tummy to rise and fall. 
  • Breathe in gently through your nose and out through your mouth.
  • Gradually try to make the breaths slower and relax your shoulders (if you find this difficult, turn your palms to the ceiling).

Deep Breathing Exercises

  • Take a long, slow, deep breath in, through your nose if you can. Try to keep your chest and shoulders relaxed.
  • Breathe out gently and relaxed, like a sigh.
  • Repeat for 3-5 deep breaths.
  • Try holding your breath for about 2-3 seconds at the end of the breath in and adding a small sniff to increase lung expansion.


  • A huff is exhaling through an open mouth and throat instead of coughing. It helps move sputum up your airways so that you can clear it in a controlled way. 
  • To ‘huff’, squeeze air quickly from your lungs, out through your open mouth and throat, as if you were trying to mist up a mirror or your glasses.

Supported cough

  • It important after surgery that you are able to cough effectively.
  • Huffing may clear your sputum, however if you need to cough it is important to support your tummy while doing it.
  • You will be given a cough cushion to help support your muscles and the physios will teach you the best way to use this.

Last updated: February 2023