Are you a rib breather, or a belly breather?
And why does it matter?
Well, because our lungs don’t live in our belly, live in our ribs, and our lungs are all about breathing.
Breathing a natural response to atmospheric pressure. We inhale to reduce the pressure that’s pressing down on us all day long.
In order to manage that pressure, the body has to expand. The thoracic ‘basket’ consists of more than 80 joints, making it flexible, adaptable and mobile – great for changing shape AND expanding.
The belly can change shape, but it cannot expand unless we fill it with food, fluid or a baby. Unlike the bendy ribs, the belly is not designed to change shape every time we breathe, so instead it bulges, in the same way that a squeezed balloon will change shape and bulge to accommodate the pressure of the squeeze because it cannot physically get any bigger.
So where does that bulging go? In a search for the path of least resistance, it will generally go outward or downward.
Bulging out = not great for the abdominal wall, can put the linea alba under excessive tension (hello diastasis-recti), and does not help the abdominal cavity manage pressure
Bulging down – not great for the pelvic floor, can put excess pressure on the pelvic organs and push them downward.
Creating a 3-dimensional expansion in the rib cage with each inhale:
Keeps the ribs and thoracic mobile
Supports the management of intra-abdominal pressure
Creates negative pressures the pelvic and abdominal cavity on the exhale, creating a passive lift and toning of the pelvic floor muscles.
Releases tension from the shoulders as the thoracic spine moves through extension with every inhale, almost like your very own massage with every breath.
If you struggle with core issues, pelvic floor dysfunction, tension in your upper back and/or shoulders, working to breathe 3D into your ribs could be the missing link that helps get into balance.
Imagine a balloon inside your entire rib cage. With every inhale let that balloon expand in every direction, then exhale to let it release. Keep your belly quiet, it has more important jobs to do, so leave breathing to the ribs and let them do their magic.