Breathlessness after Covid-19: Tip#1

MBW Physiotherapists have developed a scientific based POST-COVID REHABILITATION PROGRAMME to help you to return to daily activities and/or sport.

Breathlessness is the most common complaint after Covid-19 and can be present still for a long time.

Management of breathlessness:

  • – Breathing control – relax and breath slowly
  • – Breathing techniques
  • – Positions to help you recover from breathlessness

Tip #1: Breathing Control: Three R’s

Breathing control means breathing gently, using the least effort and the best use of your diaphragm (sometimes known as relaxed tummy breathing). Remember the three Rs:

Get into a comfortable position, with your arms supported on arm rests or your lap. Let your shoulders and body be relaxed and loose.

  • * Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
  • * Close your eyes to help you relax and focus on your breathing.
  • * Slowly breathe in through your nose, with your mouth closed. If you are relaxed, your stomach will RISE against your hand & the hand on your chest will hardly move.
  • * RELAX the breath out. Your stomach will fall gently.
  • * Try to use as little effort as possible and make your breaths slow, relaxed, and smooth. With every breath out, try to feel more relaxed. Gradually try to breathe more slowly.
  • * Rest and wait for the next breath to come.

When fully in control of your breathing, your out breath should take longer than your in breath.

Ask our Physiotherapists for help and more advice.

Still COVID after all these months?

If you’ve tested positive or suspect you may have had COVID-19, you may still have strange and unexpected symptoms weeks, even months later. This is called ‘long Covid’.

Long Covid is a new medical term and is defined as not recovering for several weeks or months following the start of symptoms that were suggestive of Covid.

What symptom is normally at the top of the list?

Extreme fatigue

It’s very debilitating, but it’s the most common symptom of Long COVID. Your physiotherapist can help you pace and manage life with fatigue.

Other symptoms which are high on the list?

Muscle or joint pain; body aches

Long COVID often causes pain which you can’t account for. Your physiotherapist knows a lot about managing pain, and can gently help you cope.

Chest pain

This pain could either be in the lungs or feel like it’s affecting the heart. Your physiotherapist knows how to assess if this is a Long COVID symptom, and help you understand, cope and get treatment.

Fatigue after exertion

If you crash after exerting yourself, even slightly, you may need help from your physiotherapist to help you pace and manage life with Long COVID ‘post-exertional malaise’.

Breathing difficulties

There is nothing worse than struggling to breathe, and it’s common in Long COVID. Your physiotherapist can teach you to breathe properly and help strengthen your breathing muscles.


Not surprising that someone with Long COVID feels anxious! Your physiotherapist can help you with relaxation techniques, breathing and very gentle, paced movement.

Other possible symptoms?

Irregular or rapid heartbeat

COVID-19 can attack the nervous system, and tachycardia (often on sitting or standing) may be a Long COVID symptom. Talk to your physiotherapist for advice and any necessary referrals.

Tummy troubles

COVID-19 can affect the autonomous nervous system, which may cause constipation or diarrhoea. Your physiotherapist can help you understand if this is part of Long COVID and refer you if necessary.

Brain fog

You can’t concentrate or focus. Your physiotherapist is your point-person; have a chat and ask if you need to see a specialist, and if so, who.

Dizziness, vertigo

Long COVID sufferers will testify it’s not easy to live with this symptom. Your physiotherapist can give you some essential tips that will keep it from taking over your life.

MBW Physios having been keeping up to date with the latest research on COVID. We can assist with your post COVID rehabilitation.

Credit to Paul Simon and the South African Society of Physiotherapy.


What is mental health?

Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the stress of life, can work fruitfully and productively, and is able to make a contribution to their community.

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Adequate and good mental health is essential to the well-being of individuals, families and communities. Poor mental health has been identified as one of the leading causes of poor quality of life, disability and reduced productivity. There is also a strong association between poor mental health status and individuals reporting multiple sites of pain.

It has been reported and documented that physical activity can improve quality of life for people with poor mental health status. As people with poor mental health status are also at an increased risk of a variety of physical health problems, including cardiovascular diseases, obesity and endocrine disorders, the benefits of physical activity not only reduce the risks of developing these types of diseases, but also improves mental health status.

The global Covid-19 pandemic has high-lighted and emphasised the importance of mental health awareness. Physiotherapists have an important role to play in the management of their patients’ mental health status.

Can regular physical activity improve your mental health?

The physical health and mental health benefits of regular physical activity or exercise include:

  • * Better sleep
  • * Improved cardiovascular fitness
  • * Better endurance
  • * A positive influence on diabetes presentation and metabolic syndrome
  • * Better mood
  • * Stress relief
  • * Less tiredness and increased energy levels
  • * Reduced symptoms associated with depression, negative mood, anxiety and social isolation
  • * Improved cognitive functions, self‐esteem and quality of life

What role can your physiotherapist play in improving your mental health?

Physiotherapists are deemed as experts in components of physical healthcare and can contribute to improving mental health status by offering:

  • * Pain management without the use of medication
  • * The development and delivery of patient-specific lifestyle and weight management advice and programmes, improving self-esteem and body image
  • * Expertise and knowledge in prescribing patient-specific exercise programmes, which can improve mood, address the risk factors of other diseases associated with poor mental health status and improve overall wellbeing
  • * Expertise and knowledge in motivating patients and promoting autonomy and self-management in the context of mental and physical health problems
  • * Interventions to address the physical problems of people with poor mental health status which limit recovery and social interaction and participation
  • * The management of falls, fear of falling and mobility problems for older people
  • * The management of developmental issues for children and young people


1.        World Health Organization. Media centre Mental health : strengthening our response. 2016.

2.        Mental Health, Physical Activity and Physical Therapy – Physiopedia [Internet]. [cited 2020 Oct 3]. Available from:,_Physical_Activity_and_Physical_Therapy?utm_source=physiopedia&utm_medium=search&utm_campaign=ongoing_internal

3.        Vancampfort D, Stubbs B, Probst M, Mugisha J. Physiotherapy for people with mental health problems in Sub-Saharan African countries: a systematic review. Arch Physiother. 2018;8(1).