Breathing is one of those things not addressed to often in the fitness industry.

As humans, we take thousands of breaths per day.

You might want to to ask yourself: are the quality of those breaths any good?

If you’re in doubt, here are two techniques that will help secure you get good breath repetitions in every avenue of your life!

Transcript: How to Breathe Better

Hello. This is Naudi Aguilar of Functional Patterns. For today’s video, I’m going to show you some techniques to help improve the function of your breathing (how to breathe better). Breathing is one of those things not addressed too commonly in the fitness industry, but even though it is, functionally, one of the things that we do most in life, maybe the thing that we do most in life when you’re asleep, when you’re exercising really hard. You do it all the time. In terms of importance, just think about how long you can live without food, which is an essential element for us to survive. That’s usually going to be about a month, anywhere between three to four weeks that you live without food. If you think about how long you can live without water, it’s anywhere between four to seven days that you’ll live without water.

How long can you live without oxygen? Well, it’s probably going to be anywhere between three to seven minutes, so you’re not going to live very long if you’re not breathing, and essentially, breathing is one of those things you should probably be really good at. In this video, what I’m going to show you are some techniques to help improve the function of your breathing (how to breathe better). This is also going to, essentially, help you improve your posture as well. Your diaphragm, what helps you control your breathing, is actually going to be one of the fundamental building blocks towards developing good thoracic extension, because the diaphragm actually attaches right there on the T-spine.

If you were to take a deep breath really deep, as far as you can, and pull your navel in, you might begin, you notice that your T-spine will begin to bend backward a little bit, or maybe it doesn’t. That can be because of certain restrictions that are present on your body, and that’s specifically what we’re going to address in this video (how to breathe better). I’m going to show you some myofascial release techniques to help you intrinsically change the biomechanics of your breathing. Let’s get these bad boys started.

For the two techniques I’m going to cover in this video, you’re going to need a very soft medicine ball. We’re going to be utilizing this, again, to our intercostal muscles on our ribcage, so it’s going to be required to be soft, and we’re also going to need kind of a squishy ball. You can use a tennis ball, but this is like one of those Little League baseballs. It’s really, really soft, has a lot of give to it. We’re going to use that to release our Serratus posterior inferior (how to breathe better).

To start, we’re going to be going into the intercostal muscles. The intercostal muscles are really going to be the muscles in and around your ribcage. These muscles, once you develop like an anterior pelvic shift I’ve, always tend to talk about, and you, because you’re in hyperextension because you have a hip flexor restriction, typically the shifting of the pelvis will also lead of a posterior shifting of the ribcage where your ribcage will shift backwards, and you’ll begin to create this kyphosis in your upper body. What then that does, it pull, it has all your tissues, well, an area called the Superficial Front Line that begins to pull you downward, and with that tightening of this Superficial Front Line, and there’s going to be lots of restrictions happening directly on your intercostal muscles (how to breathe better). Since you are stuck in this direction, you’re typically not going to breathe in very well while you’re here, in thoracic flexion, so it’s going to be essential for us to at least get into these intercostals to allow for more rib expansion and to get those ribs nice and open again so you can take a deep inhalation.

The way we’re going to set ourselves up for this technique, we’re going to be lying down, and very simply, we’re going to go on this soft ball here. You’re going to extend out one arm, and you’re just going to kind of let the weight of your body drop into this medicine ball. A lot of times, what I like to do is just kind of find one spot where it’s most tender, hang out there, let the ball kind of do its work. Be careful not to use a hard ball here. We don’t want any kind of bone-on-bone contact between hard services. You’re not going to get a benefit out of that. Muscles, or bones don’t release. Muscles do release. Tissues will release if you keep pressure on them long enough, but bones definitely won’t, so make sure you don’t use any kind of a lacrosse ball to press in here. I don’t think you would be able to bear it anyway, but you can kind of just move around in here.

You’ll also be getting into some of the muscles of the Serratus anterior around these regions, maybe even some of the obliques, if you get down low enough, but essentially, you’re just going to locate all these areas right here on the ribcage, and you’re going to essentially try and target them all the way almost clear to the sternum (how to breathe better). You can just move around these different surfaces. One thing I really like to do along with this is take some deep breaths, almost like a version of active release. I’m taking the ribs through a range of motion as I’m breathing in and applying pressure. The key point is, make it uncomfortable. Not uncomfortable to the point where it’s some kind of a sharp, shooting pain, but just uncomfortable to where you can feel like muscles are kind of aching, almost like a toothache to one degree or the other.

At that point, you’ll just kind of hang out here on these areas. I’d recommend anywhere between I guess two and 10 minutes, depending on where you’re at. If you’re a person who already does maybe like yoga or something like that, your ribs might be open, or they may not be. Maybe you’ve been breathing in, but you’ve been compensating in a certain way. Play it to whatever your experience with it. If you have a lot of experience with myofascial release, you can go up to anywhere between five and 10 minutes (how to breathe better). If you don’t have much experience, maybe you may only want to do this for about a minute.

Next technique we’re going to focus on is going to be on an area called the Serratus posterior inferior. It’s going to be located around the what we would call the [inaudible 00:04:50] (how to breathe better) lumbar region, so at this point we’re looking at the thoracic spine and a lumbar vertebrae, so we’re going to be looking around these areas here, right where that T-spine is. Well, we got to think that whenever you begin to, when you begin to round forward in this kyphosis in this manner, you can also begin to assume that when you get that flexion coming forward, you’re also going to get an elevation of the scapula. The ribs are going to slightly elevate, the scapulas kind of elevate, but also there’s going to be a significant amount of restriction right at this point here, especially because people who have kyphosis also tend to have some kind of a hyperextension in their lumbar where their erector spinae will get really tight.

A combination of having the kyphosis here and the scapula elevating, and then the hyperextension, those Serratus posterior inferior muscles take a beating, and so us getting in there is going to enable us to get a little bit more out of the lumbar hyperextension, but further than that, allow us to actually elevate the ribs more vertically, because these will not be pulling it downward. I release that, and that should enable my ribs to go upward and outward in that fashion (how to breathe better). The way we’re going to set it up, real basic, we’re going to lay on our back, place the ball not on the spine, we’re going to go just slightly off of the spine right to that spot just about, I would say, maybe about three inches below your scapula, maybe two, three inches, depending on your height, obviously.

For me, I’m probably going about two inches below my scapula, and I’m just going to hang out here and keep that pressure right in that area. What you’re looking for is these ridges that go back and forth, these lumps going back and forth, and you want to get at the center of where those lumps are. Once you find one of those good lumps, what I’ll end up usually doing is just taking a nice deep breath. With that rib elevation, it’s going to then begin to pull those Serratus posterior inferior muscles apart as I’m releasing them with the ball. It feels really good. Keep in mind you may have one side of this worse than the other. I’m a righty. My left side tends to be worse, and I’ve found that to be very common. That may not be the case directly with you. Just something to look out for (how to breathe better). You’re kind of just getting here, releasing those suckers.

You can switch sides and do the other side the same way. Again, do it to what your body intuitively feels like it needs. Some people tend to be really, really restricted, and if you put a lacrosse ball on them or something along those lines, their body can have an adverse reaction if you happen to go for longer. I always tell people, “Take it slow before on if you’re not experienced with myofascial release.” If you’re a myofascial releaser, and you’ve been gung-ho about it like I am, you may be able to hang out for a little while longer, but one thing you probably will notice, and one thing you may want to do right now, if you’ve been practicing this along with me, or if you’ve paused it, and you decided to practice these techniques, is that if you take a deep breath, you should notice a much higher capability of opening up your ribcage than what you had before, because we released the restrictions inhibiting you from actually being able to breathe better (how to breathe better).

Just think if your intercostals are tight and they’re pulling you and holding your ribcage together on the exhalation, if you think that your Serratus posterior inferior is holding your ribs in some kind of a depression, then at that point, when you can’t elevate and expand the ribs, you will not get that deeper inhale. For those of you trying to improve your cardiovascular function, or if you’re trying to better your posture, it all really starts with breathing well. Even for people that want, that are so obsessed with core training and being able to recruit their transverse abdominis, you cannot breathe well, I assure you you probably will not be able to activate your core.

That gets pretty complicated. I won’t go into that in this video, but if you look forward to the next videos on this YouTube channel, I assure you you will find more information like this on that, so if you did enjoy this video, please click “like” on it. Share it to your friends. This is Naudi Aguilar of Functional Patterns reminding you to stretch intentionally and not habitually. Take care.