It’s important to practice deep breathing and coughing exercises after surgery. These exercises will help your breathing, clear your lungs, and lower your risk of pneumonia. If you have been given an incentive spirometer, practice using it.
It’s also important to move and change your position often. These position changes prevent problems like a lung infection, blood clots, and weak muscles. They also make your breathing and coughing exercises work better.
If you’ve been given an incentive spirometer, use it 1 time every hour while you’re awake. The instructions below are for the Voldyne® spirometer. If you have a different type of incentive spirometer, please read the manufacturer’s instructions.
As you use the incentive spirometer more often, move the yellow slider on the side of the unit to the highest level you can reach. Try to reach this level with each breath, always remembering to breathe in slowly.
Coughing exercises are best done when you’re feeling comfortable. Do these exercises 1 time every hour while you’re awake for the first 2 to 3 days after minor surgery. Continue these exercises until you go back to your normal activities after your surgery. Your healthcare provider will tell you if you shouldn’t do the coughing exercises below.
Here's how to do coughing exercises:
Foot and leg exercises, also help you to get better sooner and prevent problems like blood clots. You may also have SCD stockings (sequential compression devices) on your legs that inflate and deflate to keep good blood flow.
Do these exercises 1 time every hour while you’re awake.
Change your position every hour while you are awake, or as directed by your healthcare provider. It’s important to move often to prevent problems like a lung infection, blood clots, and weak muscles.
When changing positions, follow the instructions below so that you are using your leg and arm muscles to move instead of your abdominal muscles.
Call your nurse if you need help.
Once you’re allowed to get up:
If you have any questions about these exercises, please ask your physical therapist or nurse.
Current as of: January 5, 2023
Author: Provincial Physiotherapy Professional Practice Council, Alberta Health Services
This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.