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This was originally written by Laura Indrane on her Instagram account: @muscles_and_motion

Quiet breathing is breathing at rest. Inspiration is driven by the diaphragm and, to a lesser extent, the intercostal muscles. Expiration is a passive process.

Active breathing is breathing during physical activities and the intensity of the breathing depends on the intensity of the activity. Active breathing involves almost all muscles connected to the ribcage. Imagine a runner who has suddenly stopped, you can see them panting and their ribcage is visibly moving.

So what's the deal with breathing?

People may change their breathing pattern after lung infections, colds, injuries or just by trying to pull the belly button in for better posture/core activation/looking better, etc.

This may lead to using more muscles for breathing than is necessary, especially the upper traps, levator scapulae, scalenes and pectoralis minor. All of these muscles are commonly tight in people who experience a stiff neck. This makes perfect sense when you realise that all of these muscles are working overtime.

Here are a couple of breathing exercises to improve breathing patterns, lung ventilation and relax the accessory breathing muscles.

1️⃣ Breathing with the Diaphgram

Lie down on your back and place one hand on your chest and the other one on your stomach. Hands help to give feedback on whether or not your stomach or chest is moving.

Inhale through nose, lift the belly button but don't expand your ribcage. Exhale through mouth, let the belly button sink. This is also called stomach breathing, it ventilates the lower part your your lungs and activates the diaphragm. Repeat for 8-10 cycles.

2️⃣ Lateral Breathing

This style it is commonly used in Pilates and it emphasises breathing laterally - into the side of your ribcage and waist - using your intercostal muscles.

Sit or stand, place your hands on the sides of your ribcage. Inhale through nose, expand your ribs sideways, avoiding lifting your chest. Exhale through mouth, feel the ribs sink closer to your hips like someone was tightening a corset around you. Repeat for 8-10 cycles

Happy breathing!

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