Your lungs fill because of a vacuum created in your ribcage.
When you inhale, your diaphragm and rib muscles (your external intercostal muscles) contract to expand your ribcage. That creates a vacuum that draws air into your lungs.
It’s important to exercise and soften your intercostal muscles, so that they can contract and stretch fully, helping you maximize the full range of your breath. When our breathing muscles are healthy and supple, we are able to expand and contract our ribcage more fully.
Today’s Massage Moment will help you relax these important breathing muscles so every breath is more satisfying.
Time needed: 5 minutes
How to open your ribs and free your breathing with a relaxing self massage:
- Reach up to the sky while keeping your shoulders down. Support your torso with strong abs. Feel your spine lengthen tall from your tailbone to the top of your head.
- Keeping your abs engaged, arch up and over to the left. Inhale space between your ribs. Exhale fully and feel your spine growing taller.
- Now, with your left hand, reach around to massage your right ribs. Let your fingers naturally fall into the spaces between your ribs. Massage them back and forth.
- Engage your abs. Inhale and turn your chest up toward the sky. Breathe. Feel your ribcage open. Exhale strongly, fully squeezing the air out of your lungs at the end of your breath.
- Now, with your abs still engaged, turn your chest toward the ground. Breathe. Feel your breath filling the back of your ribcage, accentuating your curl. Exhale fully and completely, squeezing all the air out of your lungs.
- Abs engaged, return to standing and reach to the sky, keeping your shoulder blades down on your back.
- Release and relax. You can follow this up with some arm and shoulder circles to strengthen your shoulders.
- Repeat on the other side.
For the complete program on how to give yourself a wonderfully relaxing, full body self massage, check out our Whole Body Transformation.