Breathing – it's the one thing we all do, every single moment of every day. It's so automatic that we often forget its profound impact on our well-being. But what if we told you that most of us are actually breathing incorrectly? Yes, it's true! 
Our modern lifestyles have led us to adopt shallow, inefficient breathing patterns that can take a toll on both our physical and mental health. But fear not, because in this blog, we're diving deep into the world of breathing exercises and exploring how they can benefit your health. 

Why do we breathe? 

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 our 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. 

The mechanics of breathing 

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 when you breathe? 

The main muscles that are used in breathing are the diaphragm, external intercostal muscles, and internal intercostal muscles. These muscles are located in between your ribs and expand and contract your ribcage as you breathe. However, there are other muscles that support breathing such as your anterior, middle and posterior scalene muscles that are located in your neck. Because we generally use upper chest breathing instead of belly or diaphragmatic breathing, our neck muscles get over-used. 

Breathing and emotional wellbeing 

How you’re breathing is a real indicator of how you’re feeling. The link between breath and your emotional state is highlighted in an NHS leaflet written by Guy’s and St. Thomas’s Hospital. Here they give a great guide to diaphragmatic breathing exercises that can help with anxiety and reduce stress levels. 

The Wim Hof method: Harnessing the power of breath 

Another master of breathing techniques for health is Wim Hof. If you haven’t heard of him, definitely check out his website. He has achieved some amazing things and has classes to teach everyone his methods. The basic idea is to oxygenate and alkaline the body in order to gain benefits such as stress reduction, better sleep, improved sports performance, and more focus and mental clarity. 

Can massage help improve your breathing? 

As we mentioned, there are numerous muscles that support inhalation and exhalation, some of which are the scalenes, sternocleidomastoid, quadratus lumborum, serratus and pectorals. 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? 


Taking a moment to think about how you are breathing and how it changes in different circumstances makes you realise just how important it is to our health and how we actually can have a positive effect on it for very little effort. Just giving some of these techniques a go will show you what a difference it will make to stress levels, feelings of relaxation or how much energy we can give to ourselves. Put aside just 10 minutes and give it a go! 
Contact us today to find out more about how massage can help to improve your breathing. Our friendly team would love to help get you on the path to a healthier and happier you! 
Tagged as: breathing, health
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