The mechanics of breathing

Do you know how air is drawn into your lungs? You know that it happens, but do you know why? This is important, because if you understand how you breathe, then you will know how to correct improper breathing habits.

The breathing process functions briefly as follows. Consider the lungs to be two very flexible and strong bags which can be inflated or deflated as air flows in or out of them during inhalation and exhalation respectively. The lungs have the ability to expand greatly and also can be contracted into a small space.

The lungs are surrounded at the top and sides by the thorax or the ribcage, an d at the bottom by a very important flat muscle called the diaphragm. The diaphragm separates the abdomen from the lungs. The lungs are not fixed to the diaphragm or the ribcage but they nevertheless closely follow any change in shape of this enclosure.

If the ribs expand and the diaphragm moves 1/2 dorĀ® ntwdridvodum eto+r2 ibistctui amsctiuart otfyen there is a tendency for a vacuum to be created between the outside of the lungs and the enclosure. Since a vacuum is not normally tolerated in nature the lungs automatically expand to fill it. They expand in such a way as to assume the same shape as the enclosure. In this way air is drawn into the lungs and inhalation takes place. Similarly, when the ribs contract and the diaphragm moves upwards due to release of muscular contraction, then the lungs are squeezed. This pushes air out of the lungs. Exhalation takes place.

This is the operation of breathing. The more the lungs are expanded and contracted, the deeper will be the breathing. It is to this subject that we turn next.

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