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Let’s talk Intercostals and breathing…

Did you know you can strengthen your breathing muscles and breathing mechanics?

Now more than ever this is very relevant so if you have been in one of my classes already this week then you will have started class with ribcage breathing.

Along with reducing stress and anxiety and improving mood and focus by shifting your nervous system to its parasympathetic side, breathing well is crucial to our heath in terms of lung function. Breathing exercises improve length and flexibility of your diaphragm, intercostal muscles (which lace between your ribs) and tune up your respiratory system. Our lungs fully mature around 20-25 years, and by 35 years, our lung function is already on its natural decline. While this is part of the ageing process, we can help slow down this decline by exercising and breathing well.

Entering menopause is often the time that many women notice changes in their breathing as menopause symptoms can exacerbate changes especially if in a sedentary job or if you have gained weight. Carrying weight underneath your bra line and poor posture such as sitting with a rounded spine for long periods can also affect your ability to breathe well as it causes the anterior (front) ribcage to shorten meaning that the intercostal muscles in between the ribs cannot expand fully to open your ribcage. Practising diaphragmatic breathing, improving your posture and including

exercises that open up and extend the upper spine are key! I love Jo Pilates breathing exercise aptly named “ Chest Expansion” and love to add this into my reformer classes but you can practise simple bridging and opening stretches shown in the pic’s above from home yourself. Try adding these in on a daily basis.

When we improve our breathing then we move more oxygen, increase our lung capacity and function and move more oxygen to our muscles and cells improving fat burning mechanisms. So, my catch phase is always “It starts with the Breath!”

Viv – Studio Owner

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