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Positions for restrictive lung conditions

In restrictive lung disease, you cannot fill your lungs with air because your lungs are restricted from fully expanding.

This happens when the lungs themselves are stiff or because there is a problem with the chest wall or the breathing muscles. The most common restrictive lung conditions are interstitial lung disease, such as IPF. Others are obesity or a curved spine.

Try our suggestions to reduce breathlessness in restrictive lung disease

Sit upright in a firm chair

Sit upright in a firm chair (figure 1): If your chair doesn’t have arms, rest your arms on your thighs. Let your wrists and hands go limp.

figure 1

High side lying

High side lying (figure 2): Lie on your side with pillows under your head and shoulders. Make sure your top pillow supports your neck. Slightly bend your knees, hips and top leg.

figure 2

Download our breathlessness information (PDF, 582KB)

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Download our breathlessness information (PDF, 582KB)

Last medically reviewed: November 2020. Due for review: November 2023

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.