How to do postural drainage

Written by gina knutson
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How to do postural drainage
Postural drainage positions should be comfortable for you. (Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Postural drainage is a technique used to help clear the lungs of mucus. It is often done in combination with a percussion procedure. The combination therapy is used for patients with lung disorders such as cystic fibrosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Postural drainage helps a patient to breathe more easily. It also helps keep lung infections at bay or helps to reduce their severity. The technique should not be used by someone who has trouble getting into the technique positions. Check with your doctor before doing postural drainage and percussion.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Bed
  • Floor
  • Pillows

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Get into a stomach down position either on the floor or on a bed. Position two or three pillows under your abdomen. Your hips should be higher than your chest. Rest your face on a small pillow. Place your arms by your face. Breathe in slowly through your nose, then exhale slowly through your mouth. Stay in this position for five minutes. If you need to cough, sit up to do so.

  2. 2

    Lie on your back on a bed or on the floor. Bend your knees and place two pillows under them. Put a small pillow under your head. Put your arms next to you on the bed or the floor. Breathe in slowly through your nose, then exhale slowly through your mouth. Stay in this position for five minutes. If you need to cough, sit up to do so.

  3. 3

    Lie on your side either on the floor or on a bed. Position two or three pillows under your hips. Rest your head on a small pillow. Your hips should be higher than your chest. Breathe in slowly through your nose, then exhale slowly through your mouth. Stay in this position for five minutes. If you need to cough, sit up to do so.

  4. 4

    Lie down on the floor or on a bed. Put one of your hands in a cupped position to add the percussion technique to your lung-clearing routine. Clap your cupped hand against your rib area over the area with excess mucus. This should produce a hollow sound. Clap in a rhythmic pattern, forcefully enough to effectively loosen mucus. It should not be painful, however. Have someone else perform this technique on you, if it is easier. Do each percussion session for three to five minutes.

Tips and warnings

  • When doing postural drainage, breathe out longer than you breathe in.
  • Do postural drainage and percussion techniques on an empty stomach, either before a meal or at least 1 1/2 hours after you eat.
  • Do not perform percussion over the breastbone, spine, stomach or lower-back area. Do not perform percussion on bare skin. Seek medical attention if you are having difficulty breathing, have pain, feel sick to your stomach, have chest tightness that won't go away, you are coughing up bloody, green or yellow mucus, or have a fever.

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