Battle Of Your Breathe

18 April 2022
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In the clinic, we often get questions about how to avoid injuries and manage low back or neck pain. This blog will cover the functional implications that a faulty breathing mechanism can have on your body.

Function vs Action 

Muscles have both actions and functions. During a movement that muscle can be asked to do either of these and it is often a sliding scale between one and the other. 

For example. If we choose your Gluteus Medius which is a muscle on the side of your hip that is commonly training by doing clamshells or hip abductions. For these exercises, your Gluteus Medius is being trained for its action. The action is abduction (lifting your leg out to the side) of the hip and external rotation. Because that muscle is not a very common movement you do day to day, let’s think about how the muscle moves when we are walking. The Gluteus Medius has the function of stabilising the lateral hip when you are walking. Meaning you can walk smoothly through your walking. 


Function: How muscles behave when we walk and breathe.

Action: How muscles behave when we move the origin to insertion.

So what happens when we look at breathing? We have to think about muscle functions rather than just actions to get the full benefit during your breath at the gym rather than just training the action of the following muscles.

Muscles of Inhalation

– Diaphram

– External Intercostals

Accessory Muscles of Inhalation

– Sternocleidomastoid

– Scalenes

– Pec Minor

A key thing to note is accessory muscles of inspiration are located around your neck and shoulder blade. This is why if we are breathing badly from the start and not using our diaphragm and abdominal muscles it is common to have neck and shoulder pain. 

Muscles of Exhalation

Exhaling is a much more passive movement. But there are muscles that help assist it, this becomes more so the case when you are at full exhalation or forced exhalation. 

Muscles of Exhalation

– Internal Intercostals

Accessory Muscles of Exhalation

– External Obliques

– Internal Obliques

– Rectus Abdominus

– Transerve Abdominus

– Quadratus Lumborum

These muscles are located around your lumbar spine. 

How to help?

Below is an exercise to practice breathing in with a slight (10%) core contraction to help improve your breathing cycle.

If you are struggling with the exercise above, below is an exercise to practice breathing in through your stomach, you should feel your belly push up against your thighs.


So to go back to the opening paragraph of this blog. If we are spending more time in a high-stress, inhalation, stress-dominant state in both life and lifting it can lead to dysfunction and therefore pain. 

In the clinic we assess both how you’re moving but also how you breathe and if you control your breathing. So if you have pain or just want to see if you can improve this aspect of your life then book yourself in for a full functional assessment. Contact the clinic today on 0578678904, direct message us on Facebook or book now.

Yours in Health

The Lawlor Clinic: Spine & Sport, Portlaoise, Laois

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