Before we get into the actual exercises, we need to go over the breathing sequence throughout this process. Breaths are going to help you lock in what you’re looking for when you’re doing these exercises. Everyone’s breathe is different, so when you’re doing these exercises remember to do it to the best of your ability.
The goal of breathing in this exercise is to breathe in as much air as you can through your nose and then exhale as much air out of your mouth, as if your blowing out 42 candles through a straw. When you breathe in through your nose it stimulates nitric oxide receptors within your nasal cavity. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator that helps open up passage ways to increase blood and pulmonary circulation. You are trying to give yourself the best advantage when consuming oxygen so stimulating these receptors will help when it is difficult breathing. If you have a nasal blockage and it is difficult breathing in through your nose, breathe through your mouth but overtime practicing on get some of your breaths through the nose.
When you exhale you want to get as much air out as you can. Full exhalations clear carbon dioxide and enhance musculoskeletal strength and control from the pelvic floor through the ribcage. Your pelvis and ribcage work in unitize to stabilize and synchronize the concentric, eccentric, and isometric contractions of the respiration system. The obliques, costals, transverse abdominus and pelvic floor muscles are some of the highly active muscles in this process. Your breath gives you, insight into the quality of your core.
To really feel what I am talking about, I recommend you start by laying on your back. Place your feet on the wall and bend your knees to 90 degrees’. In this position point the tip of your chin towards your sternum and press the tilt of your ribcage down. Place your hands below your shoulders and with your palms facing up. This keeps you from pressing your hands into the ground and turning on those secondary muscles that help you breathe when your stressed out. Close your eyes and breathe in through your nose, and then exhale through your mouth. When you exhale all the air out, pause for a second before inhaling again, and then repeat this for 3-5 breaths per round. Once you have completed a round of 3-5 breaths take 15 to 30 seconds off and repeat 2-4 rounds.
After you create familiarity with the breath, you will start to add in some focus to where your ribcage is placed, and what your ribs are doing when you breathe. Your ribs have the ability to internal rotate (move towards the anterior pelvis) or externally rotate (rotate up towards the chin) as well as multi-directional translation. During inspiration your ribs should externally rotate and during exhalation your ribs should internally rotate. Overtime we develop patterns that decrease the fluidity of these movements.
The ribs and ribcage are the hidden gem in training that we often times over look. The ribs have a lot of similarities to the pelvis. If your hips are tight is it hard to move? The same thing goes for the ribs. If they don’t move well respiration increases when the demand for oxygen increases. This changes the rib kinematics and creates an imbalance. When you exhale and tuck the ribcage down and back to get a better starting position you increase musculoskeletal control and strength position.
To improve respiration mechanics, you’re going to get on all fours in quadruped position. A quadruped position is when you have your hands stacked under your shoulders, your knees stacked under your hips, looking at the ground. You are going to breathe in through your nose and then exhale all the air out through your mouth, tuck your ribcage down and back. This will start to round your back. As your tucking your ribcage limit how much you press your hands into the ground when you round.
Once you have exhaled all the air out, stay in your new rounded position and repeat for 3-5 breaths. The goal is to round further and further with each breath. On the 5th breath you will relax and repeat the series. In between sets take 15 to 30 seconds off. However, if you need more time, take it. The goal is to get as much air in as you can and then exhaling all the air out as you can while you subtly tuck the ribcage down and back on exhalation. If over time this gets hard your body is telling that is needs a little more time between sets. Breathing has a physiological effect that changes the chemical imbalances within our body. These changes can elevate our heart rate and challenge us physically and mentally. Taking time between sets increases the quality of the sets, so rest accordingly to how you feel.
Respiration is vital in our survival. When our respiration mechanics are off it changes our resting potential. Working on simple breathing like I discussed here as well as incorporating exercises that improve rib mechanics can help decrease stress and improve your quality of life.
Simple exercises that improve what your ribs are doing when you move, will help improve breathing mechanics and could ultimately help improve quality of life.
Checkout our YouTube channel Cystic Fibrosis Fitness Institute for more exercise on improving ribcage mechanics.