How to breathe better

Did you know that the diaphragm normally does about 75% of the workload when it comes to breathing??! And that this amazing muscle pretty much never gets tired?! It is our most important breathing muscle. And yet, so many of us are hardly even using it, which is a waste. And, in the long run, it can lead to other health issues. 

Primary Breathing Muscles

We have two ’groups’ of breathing muscles. There’s the primary breathing muscles and the secondary breathing muscles. The primary ones include the diaphragm, the muscles between the ribs (the intercostal muscles) and the abdominal muscles. 

These muscles are the ones we are primary suppose to use to breathe, hence the term ’primary breathing muscles’. The problem is though that a lot (!) of people are not using this group of muscles to breathe, but instead the ’backup muscles’ – the secondary breathing muscles. 

To this group you find the muscles in the upper chest, upper back and the neck muscles. These muscles are there for when we need extra capacity, when we need to take in more air because we are doing strenuous work such as running, working out, and so on. 

Constantly using the secondary breathing muscles can cause neck pain, lower back pain, pain in the shoulders and upper back, tension headaches, and poor digestion just to mention a few. 

Functional breath

So how should you then breathe?! In a normal, functional breath the chest and shoulders should hardly not move at all!! The belly and the ribs should softly expand on the inhale, and soften on the exhale. 

You can check your breath by placing one hand on your belly, and the other on your chest. Observe where your natural breath is. Don’t force your belly out (or in). Simply let the breath happen by itself.