Month: November 2016

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Just Breathe!

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whale-just-breathJust breathe! But, how, what does this look like, and why should I do it?

We will go over the how and what in a bit, but let’s start with the why.

Why Breathe? (Aside from the obvious)

Focused, deep breathing has been associated with a multitude of health benefits:

  • reduced stress
  • reduced depression
  • reduced anxiety
  • reduced insomnia
  • enhanced immune system
  • decreased pain

Here is a NYT article that briefly reviews some of the benefits of breathing. My favorite part of this article is at the end where it explains 5 deep breathing techniques that you can easily practice. Also, here is another article from Harvard Health Publications that again briefly reviews the benefits of breathing and provides some tips to incorporate a breathing practice into your daily life.

What does proper breathing look like.

In general, when you inhale (inspiration) your rib cage draws upward and expands three dimensionally. When you exhale (expiration) your ribcage drops and deflates 3 dimensionally. When I say 3 dimensionally, I am referring to the anterior, posterior, and lateral surfaces of your ribcage.

How do I breathe? What muscles are involved?

Did you know that there two different levels of inhaling and exhaling. These levels of breathing are known regular or passive inhaling/exhaling and forced or active inhaling/exhaling. Inhaling and exhaling, both in regular and forced forms require different structural movements and therefore different muscular actions. The following video summarizes these concepts nicely. Note how transversus abdominis facilitates forced expiration and how the neck muscles, sternocleidodmastoid and the scalenes facilitate forced inspiration.

And here is another video the reviews the mechanics of breathing in a more detailed fashion.

Enjoy and breathe on!