The Power of Breathing

You may think you know all there is to know about breathing. You’ve been doing it all day and night since you were born, after all!

But we’re here to share some information we find fascinating and to discuss how breathing relates to massage and sports.

Why do we breathe?

Well you probably know the answer to this. If we don’t breathe then pretty soon we’ll die! We breathe to move air into and out of the lungs. We take in oxygen and remove carbon dioxide through gas exchange. The air that we breathe in has a higher percentage of oxygen than the air we breathe out. You probably remember that from science lessons at school.

What is ventilation?

Ventilation is the term for the movement of air to and from the alveoli of the lungs. The two aspects of ventilation are inhalation and exhalation. Blood vessels surround the alveoli of the lungs and this is where the exchange of gases takes place. The air with a higher oxygen level transfers into the blood, and the air with higher carbon dioxide levels leaves the blood to become the air we breathe out. And thankfully, plants and the oceans absorb that for us.

What muscles are used?

The main muscles that are used in breathing are the diaphragm, external intercostal muscles, and internal intercostal muscles. However there are other muscles that support breathing.

How can massage help with my breathing?

The other muscles that support inhalation and exhalation are the scalenes, sternocleidomastoid, quadratus lumborum, serratus and pectorials. When you feel the signs of stress your shoulder girdle rises, preventing you from full deep breathing. This results in the muscles of the neck and pecs to become shortened and tight. Sound familiar?

So how should we breathe?

The essence of yoga and martial arts teaches us to breathe ‘properly’.

So how should we breathe ‘properly’? 

  1. Breathe through the nose. Every breath you take should go in and out through the nose. It has hairs for a filtering out unwanted things!

  2. Breathe with the diaphragm. The air you breathe in through your nose should go all the way down into what feels like your belly. The air doesn’t go into your belly; this is your diaphragm and rib cage working!

  3. Breathe in a relaxed way. Bring those shoulders down and back, and loosen your neck muscles.

  4. Breathe rhythmically. Meditation and mindfulness apps like Calm or Headspace can really help with this.

  5. Breathe silently. Unless you’re in a yoga or martial arts class.

Are you feeling stressed?

Contact us to discuss how we can help.