Stretching exercises to improve breathing, lung function and buoyancy

Many people feel that they have no air in everyday life and especially while swimming.

In the article, we combined a number of stretching exercises that you should do during your workout, at the end of the swimming session, and even at home, for only 7 minutes.

In addition, at the end of the article there is a special workout that combines swimming without breathing with stretches.

** Sometimes all you need to do to get more air, is swim using the hydrotherapic swimming technique that is custom to your body structure – WEST.

To receive a 20% discount coupon for a WEST Swimming course online click here >>


Stretch 1 – Lung meridian stretch

How to perform the stretch:

The lung meridian begins with L-1 – right on the front delta, and L-2 in the connection between the Clavicle  and the chest (Pectoral )muscle and the delta, all the way to the thumb – L-11. The purpose of stretching the lung meridian is to create a stretch from the chest to the thumb. In order to create a stretching of the whole meridian we need to open the hands towards the sky and let the thumb lead the upward movement.

Exercise goal:

In the Chinese medicine, the same stretch treats the lungs, opens them and allows free air passage, and anatomically-physiologically stretching the lung meridian in this way allows more air intake with each inhalation, releases the neck and shoulders and directly helps us improve breathing, float better and make better progress in the water.


Swimming stretch 2 -Opening the chest, hands touching the buttocks

How to perform the stretch:

Hold your hands together behind your back and lock your elbows. During inhalation, the thorax is opened, the elbows are further locked and the shoulder blades inserted. It is very important to keep your back upright during the stretch and the top of your head towards the sky.

Exercise goal:

The goal in Chinese medicine is a stretch of the lung meridian, and in the anatomical-physiological aspect it is one of the easiest stretches to perform, even for less flexible people. The main goal here is to pull the shoulder blades inward or in other words release tension and stress from the shoulder blades. Without that release we can try to enhance our breathing, but it will be blocked all the time.


Stretch 3 – Hand Stretch on the wall with a leg lift

How to perform the stretch:

Place 2 hands behind your back on the wall when hands more or less at shoulder width, and begin to walk forward slowly with your feet until you reach the maximum stretch. Once we have nowhere else to go, lift one leg for 5-10 seconds in a point and then the other leg for that same period of time.

Exercise goal:

Many people can’t lift their arms to 90 degrees while standing when their hands are joined together. By using the wall and lifting the leg forward, we optimize the opening of the thorax, inserting the shoulder blades and releasing the ribs that in a certain way block the lungs. In the end, combining WEST swimming and stretches will change the lung size, especially lung output, which is one of the most important indicators for breathing and daily functioning.


Stretch 4 – Opening the chest in rotation

How to perform the stretch:

Place one hand on the wall behind your back with your thumb toward the sky and 4 fingers in the water, and shoulders in the water. Slowly turn your gaze in the opposite direction while opening your chest. The same exercise can be done outside the water and then put your hand at varying heights (shoulder line, 20 cm higher than shoulder line and 40 cm higher than shoulder line).

Exercise goal:

Apart from the fact that the stretch opens the chest and inserts the scapula (center of mind and emotion), it also stretches several points on the lung meridian at the wrist, and so helps cold, cough, and strengthens the whole body.

In many cases of fever and runny nose, an amazing therapeutic process is a combination of the WEST (custom-built swimming) and precise stretching to the meridian itself.


Stretch 5 – Lifting hands behind your back standing up

How to perform the stretch:

Hold your hands together behind your back and stretch upward. It is very important during the stretch to keep your back and head straight. The future goal of the stretch is to bring the hands to a height of 90 degrees to the body.

** It is very important to know that if you are really not flexible, if you have pressure in the neck and almost can’t lift your hands and lock your elbows, it is recommended to do stretch 3 with the wall and not standing up.

Exercise goal:

Just like stretch # 3 – beyond the rare combination of thoracic opening, a stretch of the lung meridian, the thorax and the delta, one of the advantages of the stretch is that it can be made standing up even every hour for only 10 seconds to release the shoulders and also to relieve stress, tension, and soothe the neck from the long sitting in front of the computer.


Stretch 6 – Stretching thumbs towards the sky (flower)

How to perform the stretch:

Hook your thumbs together and stretch your hands toward the sky. As soon as you reach the peak of the stretch, spread your fingers like a flower that opens, with the thumbs attached to each other and the fingers pulling both upward and to the sides.

Exercise goal:

The thumb is the end of the lung meridian, so by stretching your hands upwards with the thumbs locked you also increase the range of your motion in swimming, also opening the lungs and releasing the tension from the shoulder blades.


Before you start opening your breathing, you must know how to swim WEST – a swimming technique that is adapted to the body structure, while maintaining the neck and back.

If you want to swim WEST and get a full course of over 100 videos at the price of one private lesson, click here and you can swim faster and also take care of your lower back, neck, and of course open your breathing.

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Swimming workout to open your breathing:

In this workout we will combine swimming without breathing and stretches to open the thorax, achieve respiratory treatment by stretching the lung meridian, release stress and create better buoyancy and easy swimming with much more air.

We will perform six different exercises. In each exercise we will use a different stretch that we have learned.

Breathing Training Program – Total 48 minutes gross:

8 minutes freestyle swimming without breathing: Each time swim 10 meters without breathing. After every 4 times 10 m we will perform 20 seconds stretching (Exercise 1 Stretch 1, 10 seconds each stretch or hand).

8 minutes freestyle without breathing with fins, each time 12.5 m, at the end of each 12.5 m do 20 seconds stretching.

8 minutes freestyle without breathing with fins, up to 10 strokes per 25 m pool, between every 25 m 20 seconds break for stretching.

8 minutes of Superman swim, hands changing every 5 seconds, kicking with fins without breathing, at the end of 25m 20 seconds stretching.

8 minutes freestyle, breathing every 5, between every 25 m 20 seconds stretching.

8 minutes diving with fins, hands in the arrow, without breathing, between every 25 m 20 seconds break.

** Exercise can be done before or after the swimming session. It is always advisable to consult with the professional staff of Water World, in order to adapt the training program to you.

If you feel you have no air, do not wait! Learn to swim WEST with one of the WEST trainers in Water World or schedule a hydrotherapy treatment to further open your breath.

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