To breathe or not to breathe…


So we gave our Over 55s Strength and Conditioning class a quick quiz today. We asked them, “Where are three regions of the body that tend to hold the most stress?”, to which they correctly answered, “Neck, shoulders and jaw”.

A very intelligent lady then said, “And they’re all associated with dysfunctional breathing!”. This was true!

The PRIMARY muscles for inhalation are the diaphragm and the external intercostals; for exhalation the primary muscles are the internal intercostals, the intercostalis intimi, and the subcostals. These primary inspiratory muscles cause the rib cage and sternum to rise as you inhale; while the primary expiratory muscles depress them.

When we are TENSE or STRESSED, our breathing becomes quicker and shallower.

This encourages us to use our ACCESSORY muscles. Our accessory muscles for inhalation are the sternocleidomastoid, the scalenus anterior, medius, and posterior, the pectoralis major and minor, the inferior fibres of serratus anterior and latissimus dorsi.
Unfortunately, these muscles aren’t built for routine respiration, and they get exhausted and tender! They attach to the neck, shoulders and jaw!

So next time you feel yourself tensing up, place a hand on your lower ribs and try to breathe in, feeling your hand move out and let the exhale happen passively.

REMEMBER, breathing dysfunction can be the underlying issue to many musculoskeletal pathologies we see as physiotherapists. For a comprehensive assessment to see if this pertains to you, come and have a chat to one of our friendly physiotherapists TODAY!

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