When performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), one of the most important things to know is how deep your compressions are! It can be tricky to determine this depth, especially if you’re not sure what compression rate you should use or you feel yourself getting dizzy or light-headed.

So, in this article I will go over some helpful tips that may help you achieve the best possible outcome during rescue breathing and chest compressions. Read on for these tips and see just how close we were able to get with our average depth for CPR!

Disclaimer: The content in this article will focus more on mouth-to-mouth rescue breaths than it will on chest compressions, but both play an integral part in saving a person’s life! Make no mistake – save Savez Life is about giving proper care for every member of the human body, including their respiratory system.

Medical professionals agree that the number of effective rescues breathed per minute depends mostly on the depth of the breathings performed. More shallow respirations won’t allow enough oxygen to reach the lungs, while too many risks lung collapse and/or airway obstruction.

This is why having a good understanding of how deep your compen­ders need to be is so essential!

We will look at two main components: the lower limit of compen­sedness and the upper limit of decompression.

Chest compressions

how deep are cpr compressions

When performing chest compressions, make sure to keep your hands perpendicular to the body of the person being compressed. Your index finger should be placed along the centerline of the breastbone (the sternum) and your middle finger parallel to the other hand. Your thumbs should meet at around waist level.

Your legs must be able to move easily so that you can step forward or back if needed. You do not need to worry about getting compression strokes as our trained professionals have perfected this technique!

After each push, relax your fingers and lower them slowly until they are barely touching before stepping up with the next push. Avoid pulling away from the body as this could cause injury or loss of circulation.

When doing chin-to-chest compressions, remember to only apply even pressure; never heavy on one side and light on the other. Also, make sure to rotate through the full range of motion of the joint.

Heart rate

how deep are cpr compressions

When performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on someone who has stopped breathing, one of the first things you should do is determine their heart rate. You can do this by placing your hand over the top of the chest and feeling the pulse.

By doing so, you will feel each heartbeat at the end of a tube called an artery. By measuring how many times the heart beats in a minute, we are able to calculate what our patient’s resting heart rate was before they stopped breathing.

We then compare that number with the patients’ current heart rate to get a percent change. For example, if the person’s normal resting heart rate is 60 bpm and it drops to 30 bpm, the percentage change would be -33%.

A -33% drop means that the patient’s body is trying hard to stay alive!

If you like, you can now refer back to our initial bullet point to make sure all of the other steps have been completed.

Compression depth

When performing CPR, one of the most important things to know is how deep you need to compress the victim’s body. Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules for this, as each person will respond differently when being compressed.

Some people have a denser bone structure than others which means they require more compression to achieve the same result. This could be due to their weight or muscle mass so it cannot be generalized that everyone needs the same amount of pressure.

The best way to determine how much pressure needed to be applied is by using your own neck as a reference. If you were just head-to-toe in an empty space, then you would only need enough pressure to make yourself slightly uncomfortable with your hands.

But if you pushed up on your own throat then that would prove too much pressure, right? So instead, try putting your hand on your shoulder and pushing down gently. That is what we recommend for someone who has never been trained in first aid before.

For individuals who have received basic life support (BLS) training however, they should be able to identify where proper choking relief comes from. Choking relief can be given by sliding your thumbs across the front of the collarbone or pinching either side of the Adam’s apple.

Both of these actions help prevent the trachea from collapsing completely, but they can still impair breathing so they are not necessarily good options.

Exhale before compressing

how deep are cpr compressions

After each breath, make sure to exhale all of the air out of the lungs before you compress them. This way, when you are trying to push oxygen into the body, you can use the empty space in the lung to facilitate this process!

This is important because there’s a limit to how much compression you can do with your hands or feet depending on how tight those muscles get. When you breathe, your body uses that space in the chest and throat to create an open channel for airflow, so using these breaths effectively is very helpful in rescue efforts.

By doing this before performing CPR, you will be giving the person time to re-inflate their lungs and take more effective breaths while help arrives. It also helps prevent aspiration, where fluid gets sucked into the lungs due to lack of air.

The rule of thumb is to perform one full circle (complete cycle) of CPR per minute for every year someone’s life span is.

Keep compression smooth

how deep are cpr compressions

When performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), you must remember to keep your compressions smooth and steady. This is an important factor in successful rescue!

When doing chest compressions, your hands should move down the body like a staircase, not up and away. Your arms should be extended with palms facing each other when applying pressure over the chest cavity.

Your feet should be positioned slightly wider than the shoulders and your knees should be able to touch the floor easily. This helps prevent excess movement and allows for better stabilization of the patient’s torso.

If needed, you can use extra padding such as towels or blankets to make sure the patient’s body is well-supported. It may also help to have someone hold the area above the pelvis so that it doesn’t shift during rescues.1

In addition to keeping the compressive forces even, there are several different rates at which people perform CPR. The most common rate is twenty two to thirty per minute, but some individuals go faster and others take longer depending on how hard they are trying.

Some experts recommend having one person do ten minutes of CPR every half hour while another says three minutes of CPR every five minutes will still result in a good outcome. So really, no matter what method you choose, just focus on helping the patient and getting them back on their own.

Avoid chest compressions on your chest

how deep are cpr compressions

While there is no official guidance, many medical professionals feel that performing compression-only resuscitations are adequate for most patients in cases of suspected COVID-19 poisoning.

This approach has two main benefits over standard cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). First, it does not require repeated mouth to nose respirations, which can spread infectious particles. Second, you only need enough strength to perform one set of good hands compressions before you stop and reevaluate if rescue breathing or oxygen therapy is needed next.

So how deep are appropriate hand compressions?

There are several ways to determine this depth depending on the person being compressed and their size. Most experts agree that at least 1½ inches (4cm) of sleeve should be pressed onto the skin with each compressing push. Some recommend 2 inches (5cm), but this may hurt more due to thinner tissue. [2]

However, even less pressure than this is still effective as long as you keep pushing hard! Too much pressure can cause additional pain and bleeding, so try to find the sweet spot.

Keep your head clear

how deep are cpr compressions

When performing rescue breathing or chest compressions, your next action should be to keep your head clear! This is very important as you do not want to lose sight of what you are doing due to distraction.

Your mind may go back to something else such as “I don’t think I can do this,” or “It’s too hard,” which could cause you to stop trying.

If you feel faint or lightheaded, stop what you are doing and sit down until you recover. It may be helpful to tell yourself ‘stop’ or ‘no, I cannot give up yet’ – just make sure you say it with conviction so that it brings you more motivation rather than demotivation.

By keeping your head clear, you also reduce the chance of getting hit or injured by things falling around you (such as during an earthquake). The same goes for fear of being noticed while helping someone.

In both cases, people might come across as uninterested in help because they worry about their own safety or lack of confidence, which could discourage others from coming forward if needed.

Practice and practice!

how deep are cpr compressions

The next major factor in improving your CPR is simply practicing it, and keeping up with that practice. This can be done through any number of ways; you could watch CPR videos or exercises online or in person, you could take a first aid course, there are even apps that teach you how to do CPR effectively.

Any of these strategies are great ways to learn more advanced techniques for saving lives. But one thing that many people miss when doing CPR is going too deep with each compression.

Too often people will only go as far down as their elbow before they repeat the cycle of breathing and chest compressions.

But by using our hands instead, we can maximize the effectiveness of our care for anyone at any time.

By bringing our hand close to the front of the chest, under the shirt, we can achieve better results than just using an arm alone. And while this may seem like a minor change, it makes a big difference and requires less strength.

Caroline Shaw is a blogger and social media manager. She enjoys blogging about current events, lifehacks, and her experiences as a millennial working in New York.