If you’re not breathing, you’re dead! Learn how to breathe better and easier with a few simple tips

It’s pretty obvious, right?

If you’re not breathing…you’re dead! Yet…we’re kinda walking around half dead or half alive every single day.

Art by Chalermphol Harnchakkham

So many of us suck in our stomachs, pretending to have washboard abs. We’re afraid to make any noises while we breathe because it’s not socially “normal” and essentially, whether due to stress and anxiety or gut issues and not speaking your truth in the world, we’re “holding our breath” as much as we can without actually dying. But I guarantee if you’re not breathing well, you’re not living as well as you could and how you breathe is a great indicator of how alive you probably feel on a daily basis.

Stefan truly surprised me with this question! I’m so glad he did. I used to hold my breath 24/7. Thankfully, I gained a lot of self-acceptance, self-confidence and stopped caring what most people think about me on a daily basis. I let myself make noises and I invite the people in my life to make them with me! Which actually makes for some really weird, fun, bizarre moments together…and we laugh a TON. That alone could be part of the healing right?! Laughter truly is medicine, as corny as the saying is.

This is a huge, massive, life-saving topic that I wish our culture and this industry (the health and fitness industry) talked about more often. Watch the latest episode of Mobility Mastery Monday POP Q&A below, then please add your comments on this blog, YouTube channel and Facebook.

I’d LOVE to hear from you on this!

Do you struggle with breathing well on a daily basis?

What was your biggest takeaway?

Are you going to try any of the suggestions in this video, and if so – which ones fit home for you and inspired you to take action?

How to breathe easier:

  1. Let go of self-consciousness and HAVE FUN WITH BREATHING! Make noises on your exhales, even the relaxed ones. Make airplane noises! Yell, groan, jump up and down or shake your whole body out. And PLEASE – laugh! This is honestly the best thing I personally know of (that few people talk about online). There are PLENTY of “how to breathe” articles all over the internet. I haven’t yet read one that encourages you to make noises, laugh at yourself and shake your whole body. While the breathing itself is important…I believe it’s even more important to break the nervous system pattern with laughter, and add an element of play and fun into something that’s otherwise so serious.
  2. If you’re anxious or stressed, definitely try exaggerating the emotion you feel and get it OUT on the exhales with LOTS of noise, and honestly – the louder the better! You’ll laugh even harder at yourself. Awesome! This will break the pattern and create more ease, more relaxation and less tension. Obviously, it’s probably best to do this one at home, in your car or when you’re alone (unless you’re with someone who knows what you’re doing and why…and then, by all means turn it into a party haha).
  3. MOVE! Move your body and you move your lungs.
  4. Spend time in nature. Science has proven that we breathe easier in forests.
  5. You could certainly try the Wim Hof Method (click < to go to his site and please know we have no affiliation, we just a lot of affection and respect for him and what he’s doing).
  6. Yoga has been proven effective at helping people breathe better.
  7. As much as possible throughout the day, breathe DEEPLY, exhale fully, inhale fully and eventually this will become second nature and you won’t have to “try.”
  8. To assist in all of the above, or if you suspect you have fascial restrictions keeping you from breathing well…try any or all of the below techniques that we talked about in the video.

Try one or more of these fascial release techniques to help you breathe better:

  1. My top pick is releasing the abdominal fascia. You can find that by clicking here.
  2. Next I would try your neck fascia, which will help your lungs and neck expand with your inhales and push the exhales all the way out with effortless ease. That post and video how-to can be found by clicking here.
  3. Great additions to the above would be the lat release, which can help with the rib issue I talked about in the video. Click here for that. The rhomboid release is ALSO found in this blog post, and doing both of these will help with rib mobility and allow the diaphragm and lungs to expand naturally via the side and posterior ribs being more flexible.
  4. The chest release would also be a fantastic addition. Get that here.
  5. And finally, I would recommend the scalene/neck release for just about everyone on this planet, whether or not you have breathing issues. So I’m throwing that in the mix for you, click here and have fun!

How to Release Your Pec Minor Fascia – For Shoulder Pain & Shoulder Mobility Issues

Pec minor – a small but very important muscle!

If you have shoulder issues of any kind – from shoulder pain, rotator cuff or shoulder mobility issues (including partially frozen shoulders or seriously forward rotated shoulders) then this technique should be at the top of your list for self-help techniques.

If you have breathing or rib issues this could be related as well.

Pec minor is actually somewhat difficult to get into. Pec major and the clavipectoral fascia sit on top of it, and when your arm is resting or hanging at your side you can’t get into it at all. In order to get at this triple headed small muscle and its fascia you’ll need to raise your arm and target a very specific spot for release. (I show you exactly how in the video).

To be clear, what we’re actually going after here is the fascial adhesion that can occur between pec minor and pec major (specifically the , the clavipectoral fascia and possibly coracobrachilais as well.

For such a small muscle, pec minor plays a critical role in shoulder joint, scapular/rotator cuff and rib health.

From the picture to the left you can see how (because of its attachment at the coracoid process of the scapula), if shortened or adhesed, pec minor can pull both the shoulder joint and the scapula into forward rotation, and/or elevate the ribs. Someone who, later in life, has a serious hunch or “wings” showing in the upper back – you can bet they have a very short, tight, adhesed pec minor (in addition to probably a lot of other fascial tightness in the front as well).

If you’re someone who has ribs “go out” a lot, I would instantly suspect ridiculously tight pec minor tissue. This would not be the thing itself that makes a rib go out, it just sets you up and makes it much more likely. This has been true of my clients who play lacrosse, train jiu jitsu or those who have experienced a traumatic fall or impact such as a car accident, falling onto a shoulder or their head while snowboarding etc.

How to get the most out of this technique:

  • You’ll need a lacrosse ball for this one. I do NOT recommend a tennis ball, softball, golf ball or really any other ball. This particular area is SO TRICKY to get into in a way that you can hold the position, so you’ll need the grip or stickiness of the lacrosse ball to make it work.
  • Spend however long you need to get the right spot! This technique will be almost useless (for its intended purpose anyway) if you don’t successfully find pec minor. It can be incredibly tricky to nail. Watch the video as many times as you need to get it right.
  • Look for (or FEEL for) a slight “THUMP” that would indicate an adhesion between pec minor and pec major.
  • MOVE SLOOOOOOOWLY. Slowly. Very very slowly.
  • Did I say move SLOWLY? Haha. If you move too fast on this one you’ll pop off of pec minor in half a second and not even know it.
  • There are probably only 2-3 spots MAX you can find and release here. Most people probably only have two spots worth doing.
  • Spend 20-30 seconds on each spot WHEN YOU GET IT RIGHT. If it takes 10 seconds at a time to find and re-find a good spot, that’s ok.
  • Move your arm after!
  • Notice what changed, if anything.
  • Obviously, if you have a serious impingement, mobility issue or pain present, this technique alone probably isn’t going to eliminate it. Use the search function on this website to find other techniques for your particular issue, or leave a comment with your questions.

 

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